Emanuel Sarfraz

It was late Saturday noon and the temperature had dropped down to bearable 32 degree. Light breeze had started blowing. Being of the first few to move around in circle of the installation or public art exhibition at Bagh-e-Jinnah the scribe felt dazed on reading about the people killed in incidents of terrorism, extremism and sectarianism. White being the colour of paper cut in triangular shapes sometimes it was like a walk among the shrouds going round in circles. After completing the circle one came back where one started to go in the middle and light an incense stick as a tribute to the people killed for no fault of their own as well as self commitment to never again allow violence in their name.

Pakistan is not the same country where we were born. A lot has changed and a lot is changing. The real civil society of the country is depressed and tired of all the wrong going and wrong turns we have taken as a nation. This exhibition is a project of Collective Awami Art, a group of concerned academics, artists who consider it for the cause of peaceful co-existence and celebration of our cultural, religious, ethnic and lingual diversity.   

The exhibition called ‘We who were slated in the dark alleys’ is supposed to take you on a walk down the memory lane to experience what we have lost. The visitor starts the walk from the year 1988 and goes through 30 years of terrorism in which thousands of citizens of Pakistan lost their lives because of belief, ideas or profession. One sees the names of Christians and Muslims killed on charge of committing blasphemy, Shias and people of other sects and beliefs killed as well as soldiers and policemen killed in the line of duty. The exhibition portrays only 127 incidences of violence that are just tip of the iceberg since we have gone through the trauma of such incidents whose number runs in thousands. It is reminder to the conscience of us all that we have to now stand up and be counted so that a peaceful society could be built.

“It all started with the government changing its policy after the Army Public School, Peshawar tragic incident. We the activists are tired of taking up posters condemning the incident or holding seminars and activities inside halls and other places. We began this group in February. We got permission to do a project at Jillani Park (formerly Racecourse Park) during the Jashan-e-Baharan festival. Then we hold a vigil on the 16th every month at Faisal Chowk. We will now hold all the activities at open public places for creating awareness,” activist Raheemul Haq explained while talking to this scribe. The exhibition will continue till June 8.