Pakistan

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Pakistani musical group Khumariyaan performs at South by South West music festival in Austin.

Photo Credit: Amil Malik | Daily Texan Staff

The rich culture of Pakistan still thrives thanks in part to the Butler School of Music here at UT, and the school’s three-year partnership with the National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi, Pakistan. 

The four regions of Pakistan — Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan — each represent unique sets of sounds. The more we, as musicians from Pakistan, collaborate and perform with artists around the world, the more we realize the uniqueness of our own sound.  

Through NAPA, one of the first performing arts academies in Pakistan, Pakistani musicians have the opportunity to work with some of the best music and theater faculty available — individuals who have survived in Pakistan’s fragile entertainment industry. 

Established in 2005, NAPA aims to mold students into artists who can express the uniqueness of Pakistani music. Professors at the institute do this by offering a unique set of academic courses that are not available in other schools or universities in the country.

The three-year partnership between Butler and NAPA has only furthered this goal. Facilitated by The South Asia Institute at UT and financed through a federal grant, the partnership allows 12 scholars from NAPA to visit and study at Butler for a semester. The first batch of four NAPA musicians came in the spring of 2014; a second batch of two artists came in the fall of 2014. I am part of the last batch of six scholars on this program, here to observe and audit music classes. My peers and I were selected for this program by our senior music faculty at NAPA based on our grades in music theory, the results of our practical/viva exams and our overall participation in music performances back home. 

Studying in Austin has been a great learning experience thus far. In my classes, I study sight reading, composition, music theory, and voice. At the same time, another NAPA scholar, Arsalan Pareyal, and I are helping develop music curricula for NAPA and are also preparing for a collaborative ensemble performance. The ensemble consists of 12 people, six from Butler and six from NAPA, and we will perform in the spring of 2016 in both the United States and in Pakistan. 

This semester Yousuf, another NAPA scholar and I are taking part in the Concert Chorale — singing great choral works of Haydn, Bach and Bernstein. We are also taking vocal pedagogy lessons from David Small and performing in the UT Middle Eastern Ensemble conducted by Sonia Seeman. 

Waqas, another NAPA student and talented tabla player, is performing in the ensemble as well. He is also getting to learn music notation and drum lessons at Butler. Arsalan is learning jazz and working with the Jazz Combo at UT. Another student, Kashan Khan, is studying classical guitar and western music theory. Kashif Hussain from the theatre department at NAPA is learning acting. Needless to say, Butler has opened up a breadth of opportunities for us and other Pakistani artists who have gone through the program. 

It feels great sharing the rich musical heritage of Pakistan with our peers through our lectures and recitals as well as through presentations at Butler and other colleges in Austin. 

In such lectures, we always try to find a common tonality between traditional Pakistani music and American music — something that never ceases to amaze the audience. We all have many more opportunities to look forward to in the coming months. 

My fellow students Arsalan and Kashan had their dream come true when they went for a guitar workshop with English guitarist Guthrie Govan and had the chance to meet and interview him. Waqas looks forward to meeting Ustad Zakir Hussain next week in San Francisco. I am looking forward to continuing to attend workshops and master’s level classes and recitals.

One of the best features of the program is an online video link set up by the State Department grant at NAPA. It enables NAPA and BSM faculty and students to interact and have live video lessons in real time. The first in the  series of online workshops this semester was with Small, during which NAPA students in Pakistan learned about voice technique, breathing and posture. 

Along with integrating in the UT community, NAPA students have been performing for greater Austin. We played Pakistani folk and Sufi songs at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and in The Fine Arts library at UT. Both performances were very well received. We also performed Turkish songs at a Nowruz, or Iranian New Year, festival at Central Market. 

I look forward to our upcoming performances with the Middle Eastern Ensemble, Concert Chorale, Jazz Combo and at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. But most of all, I hope that such exchanges continue, as they help facilitate a higher level of communication and understanding between the U.S. and Pakistan. I would like to thank the U.S. State Department, the South Asia Institute, NAPA and the Pakistani community in Austin for their support.

Shabbir is a visiting research scholar at the South Asia Institute in the College of Liberal Arts from Karachi, Pakistan. 

This past Saturday, while some may have been celebrating Valentine’s Day, the Longhorn Cricket Club hosted its annual match screening for the International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup in the Jester Auditorium. This initiative itself is of huge significance every year, as members of competing teams unite to host the event. This year, India and Pakistan squared off, with India winning 50-47 as around 400 fans in Texas watched from 9,200 miles away.  

The Longhorn Cricket Club is an organization composed of about 20 individuals from the Indian subcontinent. Its members actively participate in regional and national tournaments. The club used the screening as an opportunity to raise money by selling refreshments and collected $240 for an upcoming tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Longhorn Cricket Club will be representing UT at the American College Cricket National Tournament, which will begin March 11. College teams from all over the country will compete with each other in this game.   

India and Pakistan possess one of the most intense rivalries in the world, with this year’s match attracting 1 billion viewers worldwide. 

The rivalry originates from the extensive communal violence and differences that erupted in the 1947 partition, when Pakistan was formed and separated from India as an independent state. Since then, additional conflicts have cemented this rivalry between two nations that had once played on the same cricket team. 

The rivalry transcends sports, and now, in the 21st century, the tension is omnipresent with constant claims and accusations thrown back and forth between the neighboring countries. 

It is precisely for this reason that the meetings of these countries on the wicket are so important. The matches offer opportunities to ameliorate conflicts as fans travel to either country in order to support their nation and share their passion for the sport. 

And now, more than 67 years after the partition, although our current generation has not witnessed the momentous initial sacrifices made by the establishment of either of the independent states, cricket plays an instrumental role in bringing excitement and momentarily breaking the continuous tension between India and Pakistan.  

We often forget to look beyond our differences and look at what holds us together. The combination of culture, ethics and religion has blessed us with regional trade and our shared passion for sports. Our nationalities aside, cricket has been and will continue to be the source of excitement for both Indians and Pakistanis during this time of the year. In the end, the game brought peace more than anything.

Saifullah is a neuroscience sophomore from Richardson. 

Dr. Eugene Gholz speaks at a debate about America's involvement in Afghanistan on Tuesday. 

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Paul Miller, associate director of the University’s Clements Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft, and Eugene Gholz, public affairs associate professor, presented opposing views on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan at an on-campus debate Tuesday.

In May, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. would end combat operations in Afghanistan in December but will continue to have a small presence in the country. The U.S. first became involved in the country in 2001, following the 9/11 attacks. 

At the debate held at Sid Richardson Hall, Miller advocated keeping troops in Afghanistan and emphasized four key points: the threat of al-Qaida, the danger al-Qaida presents to an unstable Pakistan, democracy and humanitarianism. 

“Al-Qaida is uniquely rooted in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Miller said. “The possibility of civil war in Pakistan could lead to destabilization of this region and, ultimately, will affect the U.S.”

In response, Gholz said the U.S. should shift focus away from Afghanistan.

“It’s time to move to other concerns other than Afghanistan,” Gholz said.

His main argument centered on re-evaluating the national interest, understanding how Afghanistan now has primarily local concerns, and looking at other areas of the world that might require intervention.

“Afghanistan today is tangential to American national interest,” Gholz said.

After their opening remarks, each debater had a six-to-seven-minute rebuttal period, followed by a mediator addressing points made by the speakers and ending with questions from the audience. Plan II sophomore Ellen Pennington said she had a particular interest in learning more about Afghanistan.

“I hadn’t heard about our trajectory in Afghanistan,” Pennington said. “I’ve heard about current issues in that region in general, but I didn’t know exactly why we got involved.”

According to Miller, as students acquire further knowledge about past and present foreign issues, these lessons will change how foreign policy gets enacted.

“A deep knowledge of history should affect future policy making,” Miller said. “I hope [students] learn the right lessons from [Afghanistan].”

Undeclared freshman Ernesto Taylor moves in to Jester West Hall Friday afternoon. Taylor was among more than 7,300 incoming students who were welcomed during “Mooov-In” at the University.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

As a senior in high school, even in Karachi, Pakistan, I, like many others, spent hours researching, selecting and applying to various colleges. Throughout the process, I realized this would be an exciting and life-changing decision. I wanted to join an institution that not only offered a world-class education but also provided an environment that would mold me as a person ready to accept challenges and thrive in the professional world. I could not continue higher education in Pakistan. Being a third-world country, Pakistan did not have the quality of education that I required to achieve my goals.

Hence, I finally decided to take the arduous journey of 8,000 miles, zipping through various airports, to the doors of the University of Texas at Austin. The 40 Acres was going to be home for the next four years. As I sat through the long flight, I had some time to reflect. I knew I had just crossed the threshold of adolescence into independent adulthood. And I knew that with this independence comes responsibility. In Austin, I would no longer have the luxury of having domestic caretakers. I would have to make my own decisions and learn to become self-reliant for everything. While this responsibility looks different for different people, it is perhaps the most important aspect of a student’s college life. 

As incoming freshmen, we are told that college is all about new beginnings and meeting new people. College is truly the cultural melting pot of America. This is where lifelong friendships are forged and one becomes aware of the diversity and beautiful color that is added to life by people of all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. This is where the learning begins, where we learn to celebrate differences and resolve conflicts civilly, where we learn to become true citizens of this rich and diverse world population. 

I feel I can speak for most of the incoming freshmen when I say that every one of us is worried about adjusting to college life. One of the most important things this adjustment period teaches us is the importance of being polite and humble. No one wants an arrogant friend, and in order to fit in with all the different social groups, freshmen need to put aside their haughtiness.

These four years away from family and friends will play a key role in establishing lifelong friendships with my peers at UT. I hope to forge friendships with students from all kinds of races and ethnicities. 

Another important part of college is to learn the value of time, to make decisions at the right time and act accordingly. I hope to accomplish this as quickly as I can, because it would only make my college experience more fruitful.

I am a true believer that education that is imparted in the classroom is enriched and enhanced by our experiences outside the confines of the lecture hall. What better place than UT to take that first step in becoming an accomplished global citizen and the next generation of professional?

On my first day on campus, I was intimidated by the 40 Acres and I thought it would be impossible to find my way around. I missed home, where everything was familiar, but as I walked around campus from one building to another meeting new people, I stopped thinking about Karachi. There is so much to explore at UT that I am hoping it keeps me occupied, and hopefully in the coming four years, it will come to feel like home.

Mahar is an economics freshman from Karachi, Pakistan.

In the final event of an on-campus human rights lecture series, government professor Paula Newberg said, despite the efforts of Pakistan’s human rights activists, the country still faces significant security risks.

“You look at a place like Pakistan, which is really my second home, in a way, and a place that I care about very deeply,” said Newberg, the chair in Pakistan studies and a former special advisor to the United Nations. “You’ll find a society where politicians now die for defending the rights of others, where journalists are in danger for telling the truth, where militancy has overtaken the capacity of the state to enforce legitimate order and where compromise has overtaken a clear view of the protectant mission of the state.”  

Newberg said states cannot succeed when they commit human rights violation against their own people.

“I have worked across Asia and Africa and Europe, and I have yet to find a state that can sustain itself and flourish when it persecutes or starves or ignores its own people,” Newberg said. 

Newberg’s lecture was part of the White Rose Society’s series “Overcoming Hatred: A Human Rights Symposium.” The society was founded in World War II by a group of German students resisting Nazi Germany with non-violent intellectual methods, which ultimately led to the executions of many of its members.

History professor Sumit Guha said the original members of the society stood against Nazi Germany despite the possible consequences.

“It’s an example to all of us in our time — I think [the members] just felt they needed to make a stand regardless of what the ultimate outcome was,” Guha said. “For all that they could calculate about the future, they could have perished completely unknown, so it’s one of those gestures of resistance that doesn’t even necessarily assume that there’s success.”

Kolby Lee, government senior and co-president of STAND, a student organization advocating against genocide, said the organization takes after the mission of the White Rose Society.

“We’ve really kind of taken from [the White Rose Society’s] message and so a lot of what our organization at UT does is A, Holocaust remembrance but B, more broadly, genocide awareness,” Lee, who introduced Newberg at the lecture, said. “We’re a core chapter of a large national student lead movement called STAND, and STAND really focuses on issues — mass atrocities all over the world.”

Newberg said that human rights violations can be precursors to larger governmental collapse.

“If you think about it, any country that abuses the rights of free expression or the rights of free association, you find that it is a country that may well be on the verge of imploding,” Newberg said.

Mohammed Hanif, author of “A Case of Exploding Mangoes”, speaks at the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Building Monday night. Hanif is a Pakistani author and journalist, and his book was shaped by political turmoil in his home country.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

Not every author can claim his works of fiction are credible enough to dupe the heads of intelligence agencies, but according to Mohammed Hanif, his novels have done just that.

Hanif, a Pakistani author and journalist, spoke in the Avaya Auditorium on Tuesday night about how the political turmoil in Pakistan has shaped his books and allowed him to confront controversial issues through literature.

His books, “A Case of Exploding Mangoes” and “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti,” provide details from his life in Pakistan and satirize divisive issues, such as the plane crash that killed the former Pakistani president or views of Christians in Pakistani society. 

Hanif said he often makes his work humorous as a way to provide levity for the people of Pakistan and make controversial issues easier to discuss.

“There’s a long history in Pakistan of making fun of stuff … because we live in such troubled times,” Hanif said. “It comes out of despair. It comes out of a kind of oppression that people know they are trying to live with, but they can’t. [The books] are a way for people to relate to that.”

International relations junior Myra Ali said she could relate to Hanif’s work because of a shared ethnic background.

“As a Pakistani, I’m always interested in reading about Pakistan,” Ali said. “It’s in such a limbo all the time, the nation, and I’m always interested to read writers who I share views with, because oftentimes it’s hard to find that sort of material.”

Roanne Kantor, a comparative literature graduate student, said she appreciated Hanif’s writing for its cultural and literary portrayal of Pakistan and South Asia.

“[Hanif has] written a lot journalistically, but also novelistically, and South Asia is really interesting to me, especially to see how it’s represented in literature,” Kantor said.

Hanif said he still can’t believe the impact his books have had on people, especially Pakistani government intelligence officials.

“I’ve had … some [officials] take me into a corner and say, ‘Son, you’ve written a brilliant novel. Now tell me, who’s your source?’” Hanif said. “My God, these people are running my country and they actually believe all the lies that I’ve written.”

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

KHAR, Pakistan — A 40-year-old Pakistani housewife has made history by becoming the first woman to run for parliament from the country’s deeply conservative tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Badam Zari is pushing back against patriarchal traditions and braving potential attack by Islamist militants in the hope of forcing the government to focus on helping Pakistani women.

“I want to reach the assembly to become a voice for women, especially those living in the tribal areas,” Zari told The Associated Press in an interview on Monday. “This was a difficult decision, but now I am determined and hopeful society will support me.”

Many of Pakistan’s 180 million citizens hold fairly conservative views on the role of women in society. Those views are even more pronounced in the country’s semiautonomous tribal region, a poor, isolated area in the northwest dominated by Pashtun tribesmen who follow a very conservative brand of Islam.

Most women in the tribal region are uneducated, rarely work outside the home and wear long, flowing clothes that cover most of their skin when they appear in public.

Zari, who finished high school, spoke to reporters at a press conference Monday wearing a colorful shawl wrapped around her body and head, with only her eyes showing.

Life for women in the tribal region has become even more difficult in recent years with the growing presence of Taliban militants who use the border region as their main sanctuary in the country. The militants have been waging a bloody insurgency against the government to impose Islamic law in the country and have a history of using violence to enforce their hard-line views on women.

Last fall, Taliban fighters in the northwest shot 15-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in the head in an unsuccessful attempt to kill her because she resisted the militants’ views and was a strong advocate of girls’ education.

Zari is from Bajur, one of many areas in the tribal region where the Pakistani army has been battling the Taliban. She filed the paperwork necessary to run for office on Sunday. She was accompanied by her husband, who she said fully backed her decision to run for a seat in the National Assembly.

“This is very courageous. This woman has broken the barrier,” said Asad Sarwar, one of the top political officials in Bajur.

“My decision to contest the election will not only give courage to women in general and attract attention to their problems, but also helps negate the wrong impression about our society,” Zari said. “This will reflect a true picture of our society, where women get respect.”

History junior Nikolai Sankovich donates blood at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Organization’s on-campus blood drive Thurday evening. AMSO held this blood drive in response to the current persecutions of Shiite and Ahamadi Muslims in Pakistan. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Organization held an on-campus blood drive Thursday that will continue Friday in response to persecution of Shiite and Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan.

The organization and a truck from the Blood Center of Central Texas will be located on Speedway, near Robert A. Welch Hall from noon to 5 p.m. The organization hopes to raise awareness for Shiite, Ahmadi and other persecuted religious minorities, said Usama Malik, president of the organization.

“With this blood drive, we’re going to save lives and promote the true message of Islam,” Malik said. “For students on campus, the objective is just to get them in the loop about it and to get them aware of what’s going on.”

There has been an increase in violence against minority Muslim groups in Pakistan in recent years, Malik said. 

The Ahmadis are a minority group in a Sunni-majority Pakistan that make up less than 0.5 percent of the population, according to the U.S. State Department. Following a declaration against Ahmadis by the Pakistani government for alleged heresy in 1974, harrassment of Ahmadiyya and Shiite groups has spiked. In May 2010, 86 members of the Ahmadiyya community were killed in Lahore, Pakistan. There have been multiple subsequent incidents of violence directed at the religious group.

Members of the organization explained the purpose of the blood drive to students and handed out pamphlets against terrorism. 

Pre-pharmacy sophomore Munaum Qureshi, an officer for the organization, scheduled appointments for students to donate blood. 

“We’re a relatively small organization, so as long as we can get our message out, I’m happy,” Qureshi said. 

Biology junior Neel Bhan picked up a pamphlet before heading into the truck to donate blood. He said the information he read was the first he heard about the persecutions in Pakistan. 

“I think it’s always important to be involved in stuff around the world,” Bhan said. “Sometimes we kind of enclose ourselves in a little private world of classes and whatnot, but there’s real stuff going on outside our campus bubble.” 

The overall goal for the blood drive is to raise awareness regarding ongoing religious persecution, Malik said.

“This blood drive is just kind of like a snapshot of a broader message to end persecution in general, whether it’s for Muslims, Christians or Jewish people. It has a wide spread message,” Malik said.

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani couple accused of killing their 15-year-old daughter by pouring acid on her carried out the attack because she sullied the family’s honor by looking at a boy, the couple said in an interview broadcast Monday by the BBC.

The girl’s death underlines the problem of so-called “honor killings” in Pakistan where women are often killed for marrying or having relationships not approved by their families or because they are perceived to have somehow dishonored their family.

A supporter of Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), center, reacts while she and other women chant prayers in support of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Schools shut their doors in protest and Pakistanis across the country held vigils Wednesday to pray for a 14-year-old girl who was shot by a Taliban gunman after daring to advocate education for girls and criticize the militant group.

The shooting of Malala Yousufzai on Tuesday in the town of Mingora in the volatile Swat Valley horrified Pakistanis across the religious, political and ethnic spectrum. Many in the country hoped the attack and the outrage it has sparked will be a turning point in Pakistan’s long-running battle against the Taliban, which still enjoys considerable public support for fighting U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Top U.S. officials condemned the attack and offered to help the girl.

A Taliban gunman walked up to a bus taking children home from school and shot Malala in the head and neck. Another girl on the bus was also wounded. Pictures of the vehicle showed bloodstained seats where the girls were sitting.

Malala appeared to be out of immediate danger after doctors operated on her early Wednesday to remove a bullet lodged in her neck. But she remained in intensive care at a hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar, and Pakistan’s Interior Minister said the next 48 hours would be crucial.

Small rallies and prayer sessions were held for her in Mingora, the eastern city of Lahore, the southern port city of Karachi and the capital of Islamabad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised the young Pakistani girl.

“She was attacked and shot by extremists who don’t want girls to have an education and don’t want girls to speak for themselves, and don’t want girls to become leaders,” she said.

Malala is admired across Pakistan for exposing the Taliban’s atrocities and advocating girls’ education in the face of religious extremism.

At the age of 11, she began writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC about life under the Taliban in the Swat Valley. After the military ousted the militants in 2009, she began publicly speaking out about the need for girls’ education, something the Taliban strongly opposes.

The group claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack and vowed to target her again.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said authorities have identified her attackers and know how they got into the valley, but no arrests have been made.

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: Shooting sparks outrage