Building bridges between India and Pakistan

It was a dream project, photograph Mumbai with four other Pakistani Photographers and five India photographers would do the same in Karachi. The exhibition a combination of both efforts would represent a moment of trust, if we trust the other to see ourselves, from the other side of the boarder then we might find less difference and more hope. There might be less tension between India and Pakistan, and the poor fishermen who are arrested by each other countries navy, in the sea of distrust that flows between Mumbai and Karachi might not be arrested and there wives and families might live better. It was the desire to bridge the divide between two separated nations brought into the visual world of image-makers, and that scared the fundamentalists.

img_5623But when you work you just work, and because photography is a social activity, you meet and interact and do the same over and over hoping, just once, to make an image that rises above the norm and becomes something of worth. Inevitably, if you are any good you are self critical and start to doubt, can I do anything? Is the work meaningful, and because it is a great joy to and privilege to work, it seems like an indulgence, why should anyone care? There are so many images already, what makes my work worth looking at? But life does sometimes come up with the answer.

So there we were on the last days of the assignment sitting in front of the media, in our best clothes, to explain how kind the people of Mumbai had been and that there was no difference between us and them, when them, the Shiv Sainiks, (political right) burst into the room shouting hateful slogans of division.

And there we were, trying to understand what was happening, trying to look as if we, coming from an endangered group in Pakistan, were well used to this sort of thing, the sort of thing you end up in that might end very badly. And there were the right wing by there fear of the kindness we had been shown, telling us all how important it is to stand up for humanity, for freedom of expression, for joy, life and laughter.

 

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