24 August 2019
A colourful “Pakistan Saga Awards 2019” ceremony celebrating some of the best video packages on pluralism, diversity, and rights was held in Islamabad, participated by diplomats, journalists, and scholars participated. The top three awards were bagged by videos narrating stories of courage and bravery of a person living with disability, a transgender, and a religious minority – individuals who are grow up as excluded.
“Pakistan Saga” (www.pakistansaga.com) has been an initiative of Pak Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank, highlighting pluralism, diversity, and harmony.
In his introductory remarks, PIPS director Muhammad Amir Rana said that the Saga brings to light those aspects of Pakistan which are generally hidden from the general public. An element of positivity is celebrated, amid negativities surrounding us. The ceremony was marked to award top five videos produced from the 120 videos produced over the year, covering areas like minority rights, women issues, critical thinking, counter narrative, and so on.
Strikingly, the top three videos, which were also showcased at the ceremony, were diverse unto themselves, touching on the issue of disability, women rights, and religious minorities.
The best video award was given to a story from Peshawar of a girl who lost her hands at early age but who continued pursuing her education. While she lost her arms, she did not lose aims, as she continued writing with her feet. Today, she has been a position holder in her class.
The award was given by Andreas Wutz, First Secretary at the German Embassy. He appreciated the rich diversity of Pakistan.
The second best award was given to Bilal Rana for a video package on the country’s first transgender radio host who has been promoting transgender community rights. The main character of his story, Nadeem Kashish, was also in attendance, who said that it has been difficult for transgender to find decent jobs, owing to stereotypes associated with them.
Speaking on this issue, Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology Dr Qibla Ayaz said the transgender community had demanded self-assumed identity, the identity of their choice, rather than being imposed by them. This, he said, was granted to them, in light of religious code, after consultation in the Council. It was a big development, which led to the passage of the law that mainstreamed the transgender community.
The third best video was awarded to a story of a woman in Peshawar’s Christian Colony, who had established an educational setup where she has been providing education to all, including Muslims and Sikhs of the city. In a time where a great need is felt for promoting interfaith harmony, this institute is doing its best to promote harmony in the community.
Two other stories received appreciation awards. One of these was a woman who hand stitches football and sells them in Islamabad. She has come all the way from Sialkot to Islamabad to make her earning and to settle her debts. Another story tried to explore what non-Muslim stories are studying as substitute of Islamic Studies, which is deemed compulsory at all level.
Speaking at the occasion, senior journalist Owais Tohid said Pakistan is a diverse country, and this diversity can promoted through arts and culture. He paid rich tributes to media personnel who laid down their lives, to secure spaces for alternative opinions.