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Samosa Director Anwar Akhtar: Seeing the bright side of Pakistan

February 12th 2012

A young British Pakistani is struggling to establish to the world that Pakistan is a peaceful country, where a majority of people has nothing to do with fundamentalism or terrorism.

In order to pursue his aim, he is planning to show films and documentaries by Pakistani journalists and young filmmakers in Britain by the end of this year in league with The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Mr Anwar Akhtar is the Director of Samosa, a digital media publishing project (www.thesamosa.co.uk), which is exploring relationships between Pakistan, Britain and the Pakistani diaspora in the UK for the last few years.

He is in Pakistan for the past one month, his third visit in three years, holding meetings with managements of leading educational institutions like the Karachi University, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, South Asian Media School, Lahore’s Beacon House and NGOs including Smog, Café Bol etc, trying to find out how best to present their work in the UK.

He plans to show in the festival as broad a range of films as he can regarding contemporary life in Pakistan today, revealing the sides of Pakistani society that are often overlooked in the West from the amazing networks of civil rights, welfare and charity organisations, the business sector to fashion, music, arts, city life, youth culture as well as the difficult issues that Pakistanis face.

“People in Britain are worried about Pakistan becoming isolated in every aspect. And the British Pakistani community can help stop this. The film festival I am planning by the end of this year will surely improve current perceptions of Pakistan in England,” said Mr Akhtar.

He thinks his struggle will remain successful because of a lot of goodwill for Pakistan in Britain. Many Pakistanis have made Britain their home. And a lot of Britons do admire those Punjabis, Pathans and Baloch who had fought for them in the World War II, liberating Hong Kong, Singapore and Italy.

He says his organisation works to build cultural, educational, social and economic links between Britain and Pakistan. Being a campaigning media organisation, it highlights issues and areas such as welfare, human rights, citizenship.

“We are totally non-sectarian in our work and have no political affiliations either in Britain, where we work with people from all mainstream political parties, or in Pakistan. We work to encourage British arts, cultural, media and other organisations to engage with Pakistan, and work with NGOs and international agencies to raise awareness about issues in Pakistan.

“Within this we feel the very large, mainly integrated British Pakistani community has a major role to play as British citizens given the historical, cultural, social and family links they have with Pakistan,” he says.

Asked about the rationale behind the name samosa for the theatrical project, he said the snack symbolised commonality between India and Pakistan and promoted the message of peace.

Originally published in Dawn

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