Since the early 2000s, Pakistani civil society has mobilized actively to enlarge the scope of political discourse on various issues ranging from women's rights to the protection of religious minorities. Among the several movements, the most widely known are the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Aurat March, Okara farmers' movement, and the movement for climate justice in Gilgit Baltistan. Multiple organizations, union leaders, activists, and peasant leaders are at the forefront of these struggles.
Presented in collaboration with Stanford University's Center for South Asia.
DATE: Wednesday, April 13, 2022
TIME: 9:30 am - 11 am PST Calculate Your Local Time
Salman Haider, a former lecturer at Fatima Jinnah Women's University in Rawalpindi, was associated with many of the groups listed above. He wrote poetry for them and staged street theatre to bring awareness to the public about issues relating to human rights and democracy. Pakistan's security agencies picked him and three other bloggers up in January 2017. Haider and bloggers were among several thousand others - mostly Baloch and Pashtun - who were victims of 'forced disappearances.' As a result of massive international outcry and domestic protests, the security agencies were forced to release the bloggers. Threatened with violent consequences, especially of trumped blasphemy charges, Salman Haider had no choice but to leave the country and seek asylum.
Ammar Jan is an intellectual historian and a political theorist. After finishing his Ph.D. from Cambridge University, Jan returned to teach at public sector universities in Pakistan. None of the universities were comfortable with his political views and his service to the student community in the form of study circles that he was organizing on campuses. As a result, three universities - including Government College University Lahore, FC College Lahore, and Punjab University - terminated Dr. Jan's contract.
Since his return, Dr. Jan has worked to organize a new left front in Pakistan, mainly through his interaction with young Pakistani students, under the banner of the Haquq-i-Khalq Movement (HKM). In February 2019, the police picked him up from his residence on various charges, including sedition and violation of the 'Sound System Act.' In November 2020, the Deputy Commissioner's Office issued an order for his arrest under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance for his role in organizing the Student Solidarity March. The notification issued by the Deputy Commissioner's Office for his detention described Dr. Jan as a 'symbol of frightens' - an interesting choice of words that has since then been a known description for Dr. Jan and his work as a political leader.
Mehr Farooqi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Department of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures at the University of Virginia. Her general interest is in the literary culture of northern Indian languages, bilingualism, translation, literary modernism, and the intersections between religion and literature. Her most recent monograph is Ghalib: A Wilderness at My Doorstep: A Critical Biography, published by Penguin Allen Lane in 2021.
Nida Kirmani is Associate Professor of Sociology in the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. She is also Faculty Director of the Saida Waheed Gender Initiative. Professor Kirmani has published widely on issues related to gender, Islam, womens movements, development and urban studies in India and Pakistan. She completed her PhD in 2007 from the University of Manchester in Sociology. Her book, Questioning the Muslim Woman: Identity and Insecurity in an Urban Indian Locality, was published in 2013 by Routledge. Her current research focuses on urban violence, gender and insecurity in the area of Lyari in Karachi.
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