The city goes gaga over the Fashion Week
The successfully concluded Sunsilk Fashion Week, held in the posh Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, remained the talk of the town, and why not
By Waqar Gillani
The successfully concluded Sunsilk Fashion Week, held in the posh Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, remained the talk of the town, and why not.

MOOD STREET
Brave heart
By Saadia Salahuddin  
It was Thursday the first day of Data Saheb's Urs early this month. I was walking on Abbott Road towards Lakshmi Chowk when I came across a crowd around a tonga in front of the police station there. On getting closer, I spotted pool of blood in front of the horse. The horse stood standing quiet and stable apparently. It was an emergency.

Town Talk
*Exhibition: 'Spring Whispers' at Vogue Art Gallery till Sun, Feb 28.
*Group Show: 'Expressions' at Revivers Galleria till March 5. Timing 11am to 9 pm.
Group Show of Paintings 'The Colours of Pakistan' at Coopera Art Gallery till March 6 from 10 am to 6 pm daily. 26 mostly senior artists will display their works.

fake
Counter feats
Counterfeit cigarettes are doing roaring business as over 25 local units are said to be making fake cigarettes of almost all brands
By Suhail Akhter
Counterfeit cigarettes of international and local brands have flooded the local markets and it is impossible for regular smokers to differentiate between branded and counterfeits.

No resources to tap
Water taps on street corners get fewer in number as the water agency demands somebody to pay the bill
By Shafiq Nizami
A large section of population availed the facility of public water pumps in the city, many of which have been removed due to several reasons.

The untapped stage art
There is immense potential in theatre to deliver good to the masses
By Ayesha Khaled
Theatre in Pakistan started right after independence. Yet one wonders why purposive theatre has not left a mark on the theatre scene? And why only Lahore and Karachi are supposed to stage plays for the whole country?

 

 

 

The city goes gaga over the

Fashion Week

The successfully concluded Sunsilk Fashion Week, held in the posh Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, remained the talk of the town, and why not

By Waqar Gillani

The successfully concluded Sunsilk Fashion Week, held in the posh Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, remained the talk of the town, and why not.

Organised by Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC), the Fashion Week saw fashion lovers -- from within and outside Lahore -- decked out in their party best, swarm the venue. The event, essentially a trade activity, was the first of its kind to be held in the provincial metropolis and attracted fashion gurus and star models from Karachi as well as Lahore. Truly, it poured colour into the city's fashion circles.

"It's a great opportunity for us [Lahoris] to catch up with the new trends and designs. Besides, such events liven up the environment," said Saba Sheikh, wife of a businessman.

Saba wished such events were held regularly.

The daily event was divided into two Acts with the gap of an hour for a second-time security clearance, TNS learnt from sources.

The Fashion Week introduced many internationally acclaimed designers and buyers. A total of 32 designers displayed their creations through the four days of the event. Every day, eight designers would showcase their distinct collections.

Yousaf Bashir Qureshi, a Karachi-based designer better known as YBQ, commented, "I see no difference between Karachi and Lahore. We are one country and one nation.

"But Lahore has welcomed us all with great warmth."

YBQ expressed the hope that such events would take place in Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad also. "We cannot stay back because of the fear of security. Such events will help Pakistan develop the 'soft image', as they say. In fact, these should be organised on a large scale."

Fashion model Nadia Hussain also spoke to TNS. She said, "We've always got a great response from Lahore."

Eventually, PFDC was not about glamour alone; it opened opportunities for business and provided a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase Pakistani talent on the international front.

Lahore-based designer Kamiar Rokini seemed very satisfied with the way the event was held. "I got a great response. Thanks to the event I've bagged many appointments with buyers from Middle East and India. As far as I am concerned that's a 'great' response," he said.

"Lahore, actually, always manages to get a lot of positive attention. That's the great thing about this city!" he added.

It may be mentioned here that the Fashion Week was initially planned as a mega event to be held in November 2007. But it was postponed because of security reasons, since the event was to have a host of international fashion models and journalists fly down to Lahore. This, then, was the very first time in the city's history that such an event was held that brought a whole lot of fashion designers under one roof.

PFDC sponsored designers who are its council members to showcase their works in mini shops. These shops displayed ready-to-wear and pręt lines. The customers could buy them off the rack or place orders.

A government registered private company, PFDC aims -- as is stated on its website -- to give fashion business a corporate status, provide a cohesive platform to designers and act as the mouthpiece of the industry at all levels to promote Pakistani designs, both at home and abroad.

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MOOD STREET

Brave heart

By Saadia Salahuddin  

It was Thursday the first day of Data Saheb's Urs early this month. I was walking on Abbott Road towards Lakshmi Chowk when I came across a crowd around a tonga in front of the police station there. On getting closer, I spotted pool of blood in front of the horse. The horse stood standing quiet and stable apparently. It was an emergency.

Four men were happily riding on the tonga to pay homage to Data Gunj Bakhsh when a policeman on duty at the place of accident pulled a barricade in front of the horse when he saw it coming. The animal could not stop immediately and barged into the barrier – a three-pronged iron spikes. A spike just went into the animal's body. People pulled out the animal but they did not know what to do next. If it were a human being, he could be lifted and taken to hospital in a vehicle. This was a huge animal. My heart welled with pity and compassion for the horse. At the same time I felt great anger at the callousness of the person who had brought upon the poor animal this misery. The horse's resilience was admirable. He wasn't crying, rather standing as calmly as he would at any time.

I have a vet friend who is entrusted with the care of horses and donkeys these days and his number was there in my cell phone. He told the horsekeeper about a medicine and how to apply it. So the poor horse did get first aid. The horsemen were told to take the horse slowly to the hospital on Ravi Road the next morning.

This incident could not leave my thoughts. How helpless and brave a horse is, is one thing but more important is that nobody in the crowd said a word about accountability of the thoughtless policeman who pulled a barricade in front of the horse just when the animal had reached that point. Couldn't we file a case against that person in the police station? Nobody was bothered about it.

This reminded me of the horses that carry pipes in good number. Pipes being loaded on horse carts can be seen at the shops near Lahore Hotel and on Brandreth Road and Landa Bazaar where there is more business. While a horse easily carries one tonne load in a trip, a donkey is capable of carrying double that weight. The difference is that a horse runs fast while a donkey's pace is slow, I learn from a person who runs a donkey cart.

Horse food costs Rs 400 a day, I learn from two men; a horsekeeper and a man who hires horse carts to transport his wares. He feels great concern for those who make a living out of running a horse cart.

The vet who works for Brooke's Hospital for Animals has equal sympathy for the horse owners. They are very poor and are raising whole families on earnings from a horse. When they overload, it's bad for the animal but they can hardly be blamed. Their routes have become long because they are not allowed to run on every road. The horse cart owners who get work are fortunate.

Only the other day, the vet received a call from a horse cart owner who said it was the eighth day he could not find work. In the absence of money, he was facing many problems and one was that his horse had fallen ill. He requested my vet friend to visit his horse. He had prior commitment to other horses in Sabzazar and could not make to Kahna. Brookes Hospital is the one that has facilities in areas where there are horses and people call their staff when they have a problem.

When a horse expired in Shahpur Kanjra, its owner had to resort to grave digging in a graveyard until the vet and his team sought financial aid for him from an NGO and helped him buy a horse again. The problem is more than that of horse care – the poor animal has very poor owners. Space for them in the city has only shrunk with time.

 

Town Talk

*Exhibition: 'Spring Whispers' at Vogue Art Gallery till Sun, Feb 28.

*Group Show: 'Expressions' at Revivers Galleria till March 5. Timing 11am to 9 pm.

Group Show of Paintings 'The Colours of Pakistan' at Coopera Art Gallery till March 6 from 10 am to 6 pm daily. 26 mostly senior artists will display their works.

*Exhibition titled 'Old Lahore' at Royaat Gallery, 2 Kashmir Road till March 1. Gallery hours are 10 am to 7 pm.

*Exhibition of Works by Sadaf Chughtai at Rohtas Gallery from Thu, Feb 18 to Sat, Feb 27.

*Exhibition "Aaj Ke Naam"Faiz's life in photographs, solo show of Salima Hashmi's paintings at Alhamra, The Mall till Mon, Feb 22.

*Folk and Light Classical Music at Alhamra Arts Council, The Mall, Hall 3 on Tue, Feb 23.

*Classical Music at Alhamra Arts Council, The Mall, Hall-III on Wed, Feb 24 at 6 pm.

*50 years of the All Pakistan Music Conference Tamgha-e-Tehseen Awards today at Alhamra, The Mall at 6 pm.

*Perdesi: Prints by Damon Kowarsky at Alhamra, The Mall till Mon.

Counter feats

Counterfeit cigarettes are doing roaring business as over 25 local units are said to be making fake cigarettes of almost all brands

By Suhail Akhter

Counterfeit cigarettes of international and local brands have flooded the local markets and it is impossible for regular smokers to differentiate between branded and counterfeits.

These smuggled and locally-manufactured brands are available at retail outlets of the city at lower prices than the minimum specified rates fixed by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Unscrupulous elements involved in the trade are not only causing heavy loss to national exchequer, but also damaging the health of smokers.

Mushtaq, a cigarette trader, says it is difficult to hoodwink shopkeepers into buying counterfeits at the price of branded cigarettes. "Everyone knows about counterfeits and brands and it is greed for extra profit which makes shopkeepers buy counterfeits," he says.

Customs officials say cigarettes are concealed in a shipment of other items and it is difficult for officials to detect fake cigarettes through routine profiling.

They say China is the main source of counterfeit cigarettes because the country has the latest technology to make exact copy of any international brand. It gets raw materials from African and Asian countries.

An official of the FBR says smuggling is reportedly causing around Rs14 billion loss to the government in the form of different taxes. "Apart from import from China, areas such as Chakwal, Sargodha and parts of Azad Kashmir including Mirpur and Bhimber supply fake products in the main markets of Lahore and Karachi," says Babar Ali, a trader in Shah Alam Market.

He says products of Mirpur and Bhimber are being supplied in Karachi and Sindh, whereas fake cigarettes from tribal areas, Chakwal and Sargodha are sent to Lahore, Rawalpindi and other big cities.

An official of Pakistan Tobacco Company says at present 55 licensed cigarette manufacturing factories are working in Pakistan, and over 25 units are making fake cigarettes of almost all brands.

He says distributors of branded items are involved in illegal trade as they market counterfeits to make extra bucks.

"National and international brands are reducing the profit margins and are reluctant to give any incentive to distributors. The distributors then employ other methods to meet the increasing cost of the business," says Noor Khan, a distributor of John Player and Gold Leaf. He alleges distributors bribe tax officials and police to keep their business running.

Muazzam Akram, another distributor, blames weak laws for spread of this illegal trade. "The government has made a number of laws to check counterfeiting and established Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO), but these laws exist in documents only. Officials use these laws to make money, not to control the counterfeiting. If they are sincere the trade can be controlled within months," Akram opines.

He says local cigarette manufacturers are producing 80 billion cigarettes of different brands annually with two manufacturers contributing 65 billion cigarettes.

The Federal Board of Revenue and other departments don't apply laws to check loss of taxes through counterfeit trade, thus allowing growth of counterfeit trade.

Referring to health hazards, Dr Zahid Abdul Majid of Gulab Devi Hospital says, "Fake cigarettes could be more dangerous as these are manufactured with less treated tobacco and low quality filters."

Ziaul Haq, a consumer, says fake cigarettes create a bad taste and headachethus forcing some people to quit smoking. "Fake cigarettes would increase my anxiety and leave a bad taste in the mouth, so I finally decided to quit smoking," says Jibran Ali.

Manzoor Ahmed, one of the leading cigarette traders of the city, says it seems that now it has become impossible to control trade of fake cigarettes. The trader says the FBR officials brought the counterfeiting trade to the notice of industry and stakeholders when tax department launched raids on godowns of fake cigarettes.

An official in the tax department says the government should introduce tax stamps system to check counterfeiting and tax evasion.

 

 

No resources to tap

Water taps on street corners get fewer in number as the water agency demands somebody to pay the bill

By Shafiq Nizami

A large section of population availed the facility of public water pumps in the city, many of which have been removed due to several reasons.

According to a Wasa official, about 90 per cent Public Service Posts (PSP) as water pumps are called, have been disconnected and the existing pumps have remained due to the pressure from councillors, nazims and other social welfare organisations or the philanthropists who pay bills for these pumps.

Public Service Posts (PSP) are decades-old water pumps installed at different crossroads of the city, particularly in old areas of Lahore. Before the partition there would be a water pump at every corner of a street in the city which would cater to six to eight houses in a street. Most of these pumps were installed by Hindu philanthropists for the local population and the travellers coming from the city outskirts to trade goods in different bazaars of Lahore.

When the Lahore Municipal Corporation (LMC) came into being in 1975, it took control of these pumps and named them Public Service Post (PSP). After the establishment of Water and Sanitation Authority (Wasa), the LMC handed over the PSP control to the authority along with a list of the water pumps registered in the name of Hindu donors under an agreement that the LMC will pay the bill of these pumps to Wasa. The moment the district government ceased to pay the bills, Wasa started cutting off the PSP water connections.

"Nothing can justify the Wasa act of disconnecting these pumps as these are from the British India government and it is the chief responsibility of the authorities concerned to look after such public welfare projects," says former councillor Abdul Hameed while talking to TNS.

Wasa Revenue Supervisor Khawja Zahid tells TNS that the Wasa had cut dozens of PSP water connections because they were being used commercially by milkmen, restaurant and hotel owners and barbers. "Wastage of water is also a reason for suspending the PSP connections. Nobody is there to take care of these water pumps. Many a times our survey teams have found the taps missing from these public water facilities which means water keeps flowing round the clock. People of the area told them that drug addicts had stolen the taps. They don't bother to fix a new tap or replace the faulty one until thousands of gallons of water goes waste. The Punjab government has started installing Water Filtration Plants and in the presence of these plants there is no need for PSP connections in the city," says the Wasa official.

UC councillors, nazims and even the MPAs concerned are responsible for water wastage as these people get PSP connections passed and afterwards they don't care what is happening with them. They do politics on these pumps and don't let Wasa disconnect the pumps lest their voters would get angry, a Wasa official says on condition of anonymity.

Talking to TNS, former nazim Abdul Ghafoor says, "We hardly see any message on water bills, asking people not to waste water as we find in gas and electricity bills. If Wasa really wants to check misuse of water, it should educate people about the consequences of water wastage instead of putting an end to public welfare projects like PSPs.

A prayer leader told TNS: "Once I myself lodged an application with Wasa to sever a PSP connection because nobody was ready to take the responsibility of looking after the PSP and water was going waste. Sometimes shopkeepers sprinkle water in front of their shops so lavishly that it becomes difficult for pedestrians to cross the area without having their clothes stained with dirty water."

A milkman says, "When I started my shop, I fetched water from PSP water pump but a team visited the area and asked me to get the connection registered in my name, otherwise they will cut the connection. I got the connection and pay the bill regularly. Other people also use it and I never stop them from using it."

People are of the view that it is the chief responsibility of Wasa to take stringent measures to stop water wastage but an end to public service projects was not the solution to any problem. PSP connections are aimed at serving people, especially the vendors, tonga-walas and travellers. They never lose their utility as we often see people lining up to fetch water from these water pumps, especially in areas where tube-wells are not enough to supply water. It is the collective responsibility of people and the government to check water wastage, but denying the masses water makes no sense.

[email protected]

 

The untapped stage art

There is immense potential in theatre to deliver good to the masses

By Ayesha Khaled

Theatre in Pakistan started right after independence. Yet one wonders why purposive theatre has not left a mark on the theatre scene? And why only Lahore and Karachi are supposed to stage plays for the whole country?

"During Zia-ul-Haq's time when cinema was deliberately discouraged by the government for whatever reasons, theatre started to flourish because in the absence of cinema people didn't have an alternative for entertainment – a place they could go to with their families for it was easy on the pocket. That was the time when theatre started to progress", says Samina Ahmed, a veteran stage and TV actor while discussing the history of theatre in Pakistan.

But when people used this medium for earning money only instead of promoting healthy art by taking the shoulder of vulgar dialogues and gestures, the real idea of theatre vanished and purposive theatre was replaced by commercial theatre whose idea was to earn more money than anything else. A journalist Farooq Majeed says, "The Arts Council can play a very important role in promoting amateur and purposive theatre which can bring at least some change if not revolution in the society by educating and informing the masses. Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) is such an organisation which works for public in the public sector with the aim to promote the arts so it should promote theatre. It will benefit the society, at least everyone would notice a change."

According to the Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore, they are making efforts in promoting theatre that is purposive and revolutionary in nature to fulfill the requirements of a society like ours. "Majority of the people in our society are more attracted to vulgarity than art, the reason why theatre is suffering from commercialism, horseplay and abusive language etc. To overcome this we are trying many things to produce theatre which people can watch with their families. We are requesting producers to re-make classics along with their new productions and I am very glad to announce that we have done some of the good classics now," says Kamran Afzal Cheema ex-executive director Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore.

According to the Arts Council, the scripts of plays staged under its banner, get permission only after the scrutiny committee passes them. "A system was developed in the arts council for staging the plays when a committee of some eminent theatre writers and directors was formed, to read the script and judge if it had the potential to be performed in the arts council or not. The practice continues," says Samina Ahmed, who is in this committee.

After all these steps why pioneer theatre groups like Rafi Peer Theatre is not staging anything with the Arts Council. "If they demand Rs. 150,000-200,000 for a play, then it would be suitable only for someone running a repertory group or for commercial plays," says Faizan Peerzada.

The downfall of theatre also lies in the fact that our society still doesn't accept someone performing for art sake. The society needs to be groomed but the major reason is that besides Alhamra Arts Council Lahore no one is giving art education. If there is any, they charge exorbitantly and as a result attract a certain class which can pay for the training – not necessarily talent. The Arts Council should hire big names in the theatre to give training to amateurs, of course this would mean paying them well, instead of those who don't even know the ABCD of this art, because if a change has to be brought then it has to be brought by the arts council.

As long as groups like Rafi Peer and Ajoka Theatre are working in Pakistan, we can hope that the time is not far away when purposive theatre would rise again and work for the betterment of the society. By observing their efforts some private Lahori groups have started working on the same lines which includes Ali Institution, Mandwa Theatre and Punjab Theatre, who perform within the country and also represent Pakistan and its culture. But their efforts can only prove fruitful if the concerned bodies work on it more seriously.

"If we talk about the progress of theatre then it includes the creation of a national movement and a national theatre. As far as the role of National Arts Council is concerned, it can be said that they are working in a closed box. They have to be more open because their involvement matters a lot," says Faizan Peerzada.

Theatre is considered economical entertainment that's why government and the theatre people should work on developing strong bonds to give rise to this form of art. We all need to work for its betterment because people in the cities of Lahore and Karachi, where theatre is still alive although suffering, have comparatively better vision and approach. It is time when we can produce good theatre by joining hands with our neighbours who are doing well in this field. We can arrange workshops for those interested in theatre under the banner of the ongoing project "Aman ki Asha". And we can make a difference.

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