Comics Artists and Journalists in Pakistan team up to fight terrorism

Comics Artists and Journalists in Pakistan fight aainst terrorism


Hania Tahir
4 minutes read

It is a well known fact that the visuals put greater impact on our understanding as compared to the reading material. The strike of the image on our minds instantly gives the whole idea. Most of the time the comprehension of the idea is the same by different sets of people. In Pakistan, terrorism is a big issue and it has been brought up by many journalists and comic artists. Both the journalists and comic artists have paired up to stand up against terrorism in Pakistan. This step would promote awareness regarding terrorism among the youth.

Terrorism comes in many forms. It is not only the killing of people, but it also includes manipulation of rights, depriving and suppressing people, child abuse and mental torture. Terrorism is defined as unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of some specific aims. All the above mentioned forms of terrorism come under this definition as these all produce a sense of fear among the people.

Do you know: Youth of Pakistan comprises about 35% of its population. (Source: Youth Experia)

We need to educate and groom our youth so that they can work for the development of the country. The journalists have joined hands with the comic artists to bring up the issue in the form of images. Our youth is very well aware of the modern world and has great interest in comics. But the comics which are very well popular among the youth are of no use but fun. Farhad Mirza, an international journalist, wrote an essay ‘Badmash Elite’. In his essay he highlighted the violence committed by students in elite schools. He actually wanted to raise the complex issue of bullying. It was undoubtedly a tough job to put such a topic into words. He wrote it out of his personal experience as a high school teacher. Mirza in his essay, examined the culture of youth violence within Pakistani elite schools. The essay starts with the following heart-rending lines,

On the 12th of February, 2015, after four days in an intensive care unit, Syed Murtaza Shah succumbed to the injuries he had sustained in a boisterous exchange with fellow students and their cohorts. He was 16 years old. He was also a student of mine.

Mirza’s essay was strong in content but couldn’t quite communicate the deeply personal element he wanted it to convey. So Anser shaukat, a Pakistani-born illustrator, came in with an innovative idea. He worked in collaboration with Creative Frontiers Comics director Gohar Aftab. They chopped up Mirza’s 5000-word essay and presented it with Shaukat’s illustrations, creating a new storytelling format designed to reach those who needed it most: The Pakistani Youth.

Aftab and Mirza then appointed another artist, Yahya Ehsan, to illustrate two more powerful articles that had previously run in a Pakistani news paper and on Al Jazeera America; the former was “More than just a foot note” by Raza Rumi , and the latter was “Malala , the muslim feminist” by Rafia Zakaria. All three illustrated features were published on the anniversary of the Peshawar massacre, which occurred on December 16,2014, when armed Taliban fighters stormed a public school in Pakistan and slaughtered 144 people, mostly children between 12 and 16.

One of the illustrators said that they wanted to present different cases of violence and tie them together to portray how physical bullying, gender inequality or any other kind of violence eventually lead people toward extremes to solve the problems they faced. In other words,they wanted to give Pakistani people a tool to examine how extreme violence takes root in the country. All the three writers and two illustrators gave their viewpoint on the importance of such anti-violence projects and how their work was received in a country where voicing anti-extremist views can lead to death threats.

Thee illustrators put the writer’s words into images and emotionally connect the readers with what they read. They want to convey the message through a medium that is easily understandable by the young people. We hope that this will make our youth well aware of what’s happening in the society and help to keep them safe from violent acts.

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