NA-120 by-election in retrospect

NA-120 Lahore bye-election was so much hyped prior to its being held and even now continues to be talked about and discussed as if general election had taken place. Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, wife of the since disqualified Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, prematurely without completing even his third term, won the much-talked about and hotly contested bye-election defeating PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid. The seat had fallen vacant after Mian Nawaz Sharif lost his seat in the National Assembly accordingly as a consequence of the Supreme Court verdict in the Panama case.
Begum Kalsoom Nawaz contested and won the bye-election while undergoing treatment in London for cancerous ailment and her election campaign in absentia was contested by her daughter Maryam Nawaz. The PML (N) had no doubt won the bye-elected but not so easily and not with big margin as everyone in the ruling party hoped and expected as PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid had gone all out to contest the bye-poll giving some anxious moments to the ruling party.
NA-120 bye-election was another case of divided opposition dividing the votes and not putting up any impressive show. Had the opposition parties leaderships given some consideration to withdraw their candidates and let it be a straight fight between two women then there would have been every possibility of either Dr Yasmin Rashid would have won by collective opposition votes or the margin of votes so polled by the two main women contestants would have been further narrowed down. Throughout the election day, the experts and analysts on almost all tv channels talked only about Begum Kalsoom Nawaz and Dr Yasmin Rashid and no mention of other contesting candidates was made.
Besides the bitter fact that divided opposition had provided the ruling party to win the bye-election though with big margin but another painful aspect of NA-120 bye-polls was noted by many topped by the country’s apex court, Supreme Court, that banned outfits were allowed to the contest the election in flagrant violation of the laws of the land. For this, the Election Commission officials concerned ought to be taken to task and it would have been much appreciable if the Supreme Court had done that.
Deserted Dastaan Serai and legacy of Ashfaq Ahmad and Bano Qudsia
Dastaan Serai is located in C Block of Model Town Lahore on its outer circle at a short distance on the right side on entering the locality. This used to be residence of well-known popular writers couple Bano Qudsia and Ashfaq Ahmad. Both have passed away, one after the other and now neither Talqeen Shah is there nor Bano Apa as she was affectionately and respectfully called by many. Dastan Serai is there but it is now deserted with both the noted literary figures gone.
I have mentioned Dastan Serai as Ashfaq Ahmad’s 13th death anniversary on September 13 had passed off without being observed by literary, cultural bodies in the provincial metropolis. In fact, I was reminded about Ashfaq Ahmad, with whom I had some meetings on different occasion, on reading a letter in some English dailies of Mr Iftikhar Mirza from Islamabad.
It is not known to many that way back in early 1960s, Ashfaq Ahmad on returning home from Italy perhaps had started publication of a beautifully printed in offset Urdu journal “Dastango” in a book size and its office was located near the Regal Chowk, The Mall Road. One of my articles was also published in it. Though beautifully and impressively produced, “Dastango” could not survive long and was closed down after couple of years due to financial losses.
Ashfaq Ahmad was a noted writer and an intellectual with inclinations towards Sufism and better known for his decades long programme “Talqeen Shah” broadcast from Radio Pakistan. It was written, produced, directed and participated by Ashfaq Ahmad along with Radio Pakistan’s Riaz Mahmud and couple of others whose names I do not remember. Besides “Talqeen Shah”, in recent years, his programme “Zaviya” on PTV had also gained popularity and afterwards published in a book form as well.His penned dramas in series “Aik Muhabbat So Afsaney” was another his literary popular contribution. He had also made a film which miserably flopped on the box-office.
One can go on writing about numerous literary works of both Ashfaq Ahmad and Bano Qudsia but for want of space some more about them may be written some other time. In conclusion, I fully agree with Mr Iftikhar Mirza that it is the dire need of the hour that we should promote the literary work and ideas of such soft writers and introduce them to our youth particularly in the prevailing circumstances to remove anger, hate,extremism and aggression from them. Equality, tolerance, brotherhood and accommodating others point of view smilingly should be promoted in order to pay tributes and remembering great writer Ashfaq Ahmad who had for years advocated and pleaded these good qualities which are somehow disappearing from the society by and large, quite regretfully.
Exhibition of cartoons
Coopera Art Gallery in Regal Chowk on the Mall has organized a somewhat unique and interesting exhibition of cartoons by experienced as well as emerging artists. The exhibition in collaboration with Comic PK Foundation opened on September 22 in the presence of good number of artists and art lovers and is scheduled to continue till September 28.
On display in the group exhibition are as many as 215 cartoons both in colour as well as in black and white covering white ranging national and international events and developments such as US President Donald Trump policies, Rohingya Muslims, socio-political subjects also highlighting the damage caused to historical monuments by the Orange Line Train project to mention the themes briefly rather. The exhibition has quite nicely, artistically and impressively curated by Zunaira Sajjad, Mudassar Butt, Zakira Naeem and Rabia Alim.
Cartoonists whose works are on display in the group exhibition and attracting the attention of the visitors include late Anwar Ali (creature of Nanna character which featured in Pakistan Times for years together) his son Dr Ajaz Anwar, Dr Shaukat Mahmud popularly known as Maxim, Farooq Qaiser, Feica, Zahid Masood, Dr Muhammad Imran, Afshan Ejaz, Noshi Ejaz, Ali Haider, Erfanullah Babar, Raheem Kasher Lala, Khalid Hussain, Maria Khan, Minahil Aftab, Mudassar Butt, Sabir Nazar, Tariq Afridi, Umar Sajjad, Zunaira Sajjad, Afia Shahid, and two international comic book writers Omar Mirza and Khurrum Ansar Mehtabdin. This much so far. More about lot of happenings in the cultural capital later on, please.

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