Pakistan Calling is a project aiming to increase awareness and support for Pakistani civil society organisations, and activists, working to tackle the country’s many pressing social problems. We hope to promote cross-cultural dialogue and community trust in the UK by profiling the many different faces of Pakistan and supporting filmmakers working in areas such as arts, social welfare and citizen journalism.
Pakistan Calling builds on a project run by the RSA and The Samosa in 2011. It provides a platform for film-makers in Pakistan and the UK, and articulates the many relationships between Britain and Pakistan. Events in Lahore and Karachi affect families and communities in Bradford and Manchester and we are aiming to build stronger links between Pakistani social projects, the British Pakistani diaspora and a wider group of social entrepreneurs in the UK, fostering positive dialogue about Pakistan in Britain.
The Samosa is a unique and innovative platform which seeks to facilitate creative cooperation between Britain, Pakistan and the Diaspora. It transcends the passive realm of online comment, bringing opinion together with hard political fact, taking the dialogue through to the projects and the people who are critical in the debate surrounding identity politics, multiculturalism, human rights and development.
About the RSA
The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action. The RSA believes that all human beings have creative capacities that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver a 21st century enlightenment. It works to bring about the conditions for this change, not just amongst its diverse Fellowship, but also in institutions and communities.
Issues and progress in Pakistan
Social organisations in Pakistan typically receive too little attention. Their work is often eclipsed in mainstream media by the focus on the many difficult issues in Pakistan – from sectarian conflict, political instability, terrorism concerns and tensions with India, to the conflict in Afghanistan and nuclear proliferation. For many in Britain, the situation in Pakistan can appear hopeless. According to the UK Department for International Development, some 60 million people in Pakistan (one in three) live in poverty, and half of adults – including two out of three women – are illiterate. One in eleven children die before their fifth birthday, with 12,000 women dying in childbirth every year, and almost half of children under five suffer from stunted growth, which can affect brain development. But in a country of 170 million people there is a wealth of progressive initiatives and programmes. Pakistan Calling aims to platform these struggles for a better society. Through film, journalism and debate we can explore and develop practical solutions to the crisis in modern society.
Why is cross cultural dialogue important?
The UK has approximately 1.2 million people of Pakistani heritage, part of a global diaspora stretching back many decades, which has an important stake and influence in the future of Pakistan and its relationships with Britain. We share social, cultural, economic and security interests dating back to Britain’s long and complex history in the region. Many British Pakistanis have direct relationships with Pakistan via family connections, businesses, and support for charities and welfare organisations. The cultural and economic exchange between the UK and Pakistan has reciprocal effects that shape the social, economic and political trends of both countries. There are potential opportunities to harness these connections and wider civil society networks to help Pakistan and the stability of the wider region. This project will seek to promote civil, cultural and welfare networks in Pakistan and engage them with all those interested in Pakistan and the wider region.
We are delighted to have had such a positive response and already had many films submitted to the programme. We will be uploading new films regularly. We would like thank all those individuals that have helped set up Pakistan Calling in Pakistan and in Britain. There are far too many to name here but a specific mention must be made of: Durriya Kazi, Head of Arts at Karachi University; Akifa Mian, Assistant Professor Film Beaconhouse University Lahore; Masood Hamid in Dawn Media Group, Neelam Hussain founder of Simorgh Women’s Welfare Lahore, and Saeed Khalique in Rawalpindi for all their many months of support. Jane Barnwell and Charlotte Worthington of London Metropolitan University played a considerable role in the production of many of the films. John Pandit of Asian Dub Foundation and Graham Hitchen provided many hours of support that enabled this project to be realised. We are, most of all, grateful to all those young film makers in universities in Pakistan and the UK and all other groups and individuals that have contributed some incredible films.
If you have a story to contribute to Pakistan Calling or wish to use the films, then please contact Anwar Akhtar director of www.thesamosa.co.uk on email@example.com. We are currently working with several universities and colleges with the films as a curriculum resource and with many of the groups involved in Pakistan Calling on new films and project partnerships between civil society, development and cultural organisations in both countries.