#NotABugSplat! A giant art installation targets predator drone operators in Pakistan
In military slang, Predator drone operators often refer to kills as ‘bug splats’, since viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.
To challenge this insensitivity as well as raise awareness of civilian casualties, an artist collective installed a massive portrait facing up in the heavily bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face.
The installation is also designed to be captured by satellites in order to make it a permanent part of the landscape on online mapping sites.
The project is a collaboration of artists who made use of the French artist JR’s ‘Inside Out’ movement. Reprieve/Foundation for Fundamental Rights helped launch the effort which has been released with the hashtag #NotABugSplat
The child featured in the poster is nameless, but according to FFR, lost both her parents and two young siblings in a drone attack.
The group of artists traveled inside KPK province and, with the assistance of highly enthusiastic locals, unrolled the poster amongst mud huts and farms. It is their hope that this will create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators, and will create dialogue amongst policy makers, eventually leading to decisions that will save innocent lives.
Pakistan: A Revolution in the Arts?
Meet Shoaib Iqbal, a young Pakistani working to trigger a nationwide revolution in the arts. “The Little Art,” Iqbal’s brainchild, is a non-profit that works with public and private schools across Pakistan to equip children (irrespective of caste, creed and color) with the leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, and confidence they need to pursue their dreams.
While The Little Art blossomed in 2009, Iqbal had already launched the Lahore International Children’s Festival (LICFF), the country’s largest children’s festival, two years earlier, in 2007. Showcasing both local and international films for Pakistani children held in the major cities of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, LICFF has grown exponentially over the years. Last year alone, the festival brought together 50,000 children on the LICFF platform.
“Our festival brings together children from public schools, private schools, street children and special children,” states Iqbal, “We’re not an elitist organization because art can also be an elitist idea. We’re totally not that. We keep a mix.”
Iqbal, a computer sciences graduate, has felt a strong pull towards the arts all his life. “Coming from a background of government schools [in Pakistan], I was never introduced to the arts,” he says. His defining moment came when Iqbal would visit his father’s cloth shop as a child. He’d go to the shop every day after school and soon became captivated by the colors and designs of the cloth sold at the shop. “I always carry that childhood memory with me,” Iqbal says with a laugh, “Because while everyone would be wrapped up in buying and selling, I’d be fixated on the patterns and the shades of the cloth.”
In 2006, Iqbal was awarded the Kennedy Center Fellowship at the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. He received the Endeavour Executive Award from the Australian government in 2009, becoming a Commonwealth Fellow, and, more recently, was part of the 2013 batch of Asia 21 Leaders by Asia Society.
At The Little Art, Iqbal states that he and his team focus on three major areas: working directly with children on visual arts projects, performing arts, and other projects; helping teachers make effective use of drama and film in education; and cooperating with social development organizations working with street children and special-needs children.
“For the past two or three years we’ve also been inviting children to submit their artwork to be displayed at professional art galleries around Lahore. This year 5,000 children from 200 schools across Pakistan participated…it’s growing,” Iqbal says enthusiastically.
But Iqbal’s success in launching The Little Art and LICFF didn’t happen overnight. It took a number of years of self-doubt and roadblocks before he achieved the breakthrough he needed. Years ago, Iqbal recalls, he began teaching his very own drama education course at the Ali Institute of Education in Lahore, showing teachers how to use drama to encourage students to be more engaged in the classroom. However, when the teachers would try Iqbal’s method during their classes, feedback was mixed. For one, they began facing resistance from their school administrations. “Even when the administration was okay with the method,” says Iqbal, his voice betraying a hint of incredulity, “resistance came from the children’s families who said that they were sending their children to school to study, not to have fun!”
“During my course of study abroad in the U.S. in 2006, I got a chance to reflect back on my experiences and realized that our society in Pakistan isn’t ready to accept the fact that education is all about experience and exposure,” states Iqbal. “That’s when I realized I needed to work on a social project. See, traditional education is all about individual achievement; it’s all about the grades, so when I came back I realized I needed to engage school administrations, teachers, parents and children in social experiences which are based on arts that allow kids to experience what learning is all about.”
Of the opinion that unemployment and social constraints dissuade young Pakistanis from diving headfirst into a career in the arts, Iqbal observes: “The perception in Pakistan is, whoever goes for the arts has a useless existence. As a society we don’t recognize the importance of soft venues and soft skills. Nobody cares how many art exhibitions the country will host in a year, nobody cares how many films the country is making annually. But our approach towards arts is that children should be artists – we’re promoting that art allows you to be imaginative, no matter what you do in the future you’ll end up being creative in any field you get into. A creative doctor, a creative professional, a creative banker!”
Currently working towards this year’s LICFF (which has already received more than 1,000 foreign films to be considered for the festival), Iqbal mentions that his next project is to push for content for children in mainstream Pakistan media – both print and broadcast.
“Our society is so primitive,” he says, disgruntled, adding; “We send our kids to school, ensure they’re fed and we think we’ve done our duty but we’re totally ignoring their intellectual needs. There are no libraries for children in Pakistan, no films, so our projects basically aim at addressing the intellectual needs for children in the country. We need to allow children to live the way they want to live.”
Sonya Rehman is a journalist based in Lahore, Pakistan. She can be reached at: sonjarehman [at] gmail.com
29,000 Pakistani children form human flag to set world record
Over 29,000 school children formed a human national flag to set a new world record for Pakistan at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore city of eastern Punjab province.
Pakistan eclipsed the previous record set by 27,117 Bangladeshis last year at the second attempt under the hailstorm and rain. The children hurled their green and white cards in celebrations after the first attempt believing that they had achieved the target but officials of the Guinness Book of World Record had to count the number of children so another attempt was made.
Member of National Assembly, Hamza Shahbaz on the occasion said that Punjab government would set a sports endowment fund to continue such efforts by youth.
Most of the students were brought from Lahore and adjoining cities to the stadium in the morning in hundred of buses. Some students were reportedly minor injured while pushing each other. The students felt enthusiastic at the moment even after spending 12 hours while braving harsh weather in the open.
Last year in Youth Festival organized by Punjab provincial government, 24000 students set a world record by making a human national flag but the record was broken by Bangladesh.
11 Pakistani Soldiers Killed Protecting Polio Vaccination Team
Gunmen in northwest Pakistan Saturday killed at least 11 security officers escorting a team of health workers who came to vaccinate children against polio.
The attack was carried out in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, near the border with Afghanistan.
It is unclear who was behind the attack.
Provinicial Governor Shaukatullah Khan said the health workers came to administer life-saving drops to children and that the killings violate local traditions.
Some religious leaders accuse health workers of being spies and say the medicines are meant to sterilize Muslim children.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the only three countries left where polio is still endemic.
1 million Pakistani children out of school: Unesco
ISLAMABAD - Though, more children than ever are going to school, but it is now a certainty that the ‘education for all’ goals will not be met by the 2015 deadline, in large part because the disadvantaged have been left behind.
The goal of universal primary education is likely to be missed by a wide margin, as 57 million children were still out of school in 2011 worldwide. It is projected that by 2015, only 68 out of 122 countries will achieve universal primary enrollment.
The UNESCO released its annual education report here on Wednesday. The study ‘Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013-14’ looked at the state of learning among the youth - children between the ages of 15 and 24 - in some 37 countries.
The report says that Ethiopia and India have contributed significantly to the overall reduction in out of school numbers but places Pakistan in the list of 14 countries that are likely to have more than 1 million children out of school as the country does not have the recent data on out of school children publicly available. It says that in Pakistan rich boys and girls are expected to complete primary school by 2020 but on recent trends poor boys will reach this fundamental target only in the late 2050s and poor girls just before the end of the century.
“It is unacceptable that 25 countries, including Bangladesh, the Central African Republics, Congo and Pakistan - most of which are still a long way from achieving EFA - dedicates less than 3 per cent of Gross National Product (GNP) to education. It is particularly worrying that some countries that were already spending a small proportion of GNP on education, such as Bangladesh have reduced their spending further.”
Pakistan, home to 10 per cent of the world’s out of school children, cut spending on education from 2.6 per cent of GNP in 1999 to 2.3 per cent in 2010, the report said.
It recommends that the countries need to raise 20 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in taxes to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“In Pakistan, tax revenue is just 10 per cent of GDP and education receives only around 10 per cent of government expenditure. If the government increases its tax revenue to 14 percent of GDP by 2015 and allocated one-fifth of this to education, it could raise sufficient funds to get all of Pakistan’s children and adolescents into schools,” said the report.
Roughly 250 million children in the world’s poorest nations could not read part or all of a sentence. Most of the children came from Arab states, Sub-Saharan Africa or South and West Asia. Furthermore, in roughly one-third of those countries, less than 75 percent of school staff members were qualified to teach, the study says.
The report also found that, in addition to low enrollment rates with 120 million primary school aged children having little or no experience with school, many of the nations surveyed were losing billions by failing to address education problems.
“The cost of 250 million children not learning the basics is equivalent to $129 billion, or 10 percent of global spending on primary education,” the report said and estimated that governments would have to recruit 1.6 million more teachers in order to achieve universal primary education by 2015.
The Afghan child exiles living in poverty in Pakistan
PAKISTAN is home to hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees. Over the last three decades, at least 1.6 million Afghans have fled their home after continuous wars and violence in their country.
Generation after generation of children from Afghanistan have been raised in poverty in Pakistan.
In a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, 12-year-old Awal Gul works as a day labourer at a vegetable market. The young boy has never been to school yet has dreams of becoming a world-famous cricket star.
"My land is in Afghanistan, and we have nothing in Pakistan," he said.
The Afghan population in Pakistan have arrived after repeated conflicts in Afghanistan.
Millions streamed across the border after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the start of a decade-long war against the occupation. After the Soviets pulled out, the country was torn apart by fighting between warlords, and more Afghans fled. When the Taliban rose to power in 1996, their strict form of Sunni Islam further terrorised the population.
Although many of the young refugees feel like outsiders in their new home of Pakistan, they cannot return home as they are poor and Afghanistan remains bloody and violent.
View the potraits/images here: http://www.news.com.au/world/the-afghan-child-exiles-living-in-poverty-in-pakistan/story-fndir2ev-1226812686403