NEW YORK - A lively play about the nature of capitalist exploitation, written and directed by a Pakistani artist and filmmaker, was staged on Wednesday before a gathering of art lovers in an auditorium of New York University.

Mumtaz Hussain’s three-part play — Legal Alien — depicts the crushing burden of debt and loans in a capitalistic society and also spotlights the state of illegal immigrants in the United States. Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi was the chief guest at the event.

The play was sponsored by New York-based Momina Cheema Foundation, which provides scholarships to Pakistani students to pursue higher law studies. Ms Cheema, daughter of Nawa-i-Waqt columnist Tayeba Zia who graduated from Harvard with a master’s degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 2008, died in a road accident four years ago. Her family set up the fellowship in her name.

Qazi Shaukat Fareed, a former senior Pakistani diplomat who is now ambassador and permanent observer of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), was the master of ceremonies. He paid tributes to the artistic skills of Mumtaz Hussain, the director. “He is gushing with talent,” he said of Jhang-born Mumtaz.

Ambassador Fareed also welcomed Dr Lodhi for gracing the occasion, saying besides playing an active role at the UN, she takes keen interest in promoting cultural events. In brief remarks before the start of the play, she said that arts and cultural events were a sign of a living nation. Pakistani art and music was thriving and taking artistic expression to new heights. Ambassador Lodhi said artistic endeavours also help clear some misperceptions about Pakistan prevailing in the United States and other western countries. Mumtaz Hussain thanked the people who came to see the play, saying he felt great encouraged.