New Emissary

A Colourful People

Can fashion help people strike a balance in Pakistani life and society?

Monday in Karachi, participants of Pakistan fashion week started off the event with one minute of silence dedicated to the 46 people killed earlier in the day by a suicide bomb and gun attack in nearby Peshawar and the Lower Dir district.

‘On the one hand terrorists are attacking our country with bombings and on the other, by organising events like this, we’re trying to portray a softer image of Pakistan abroad,’ the event’s organizer Tehmina Khaled was quoted as saying.

It must be truly difficult for those wanting to celebrate the flourishing contemporary arts and culture scene in the conflicted nation to reconcile such polarizing values. Is it morally reconcilable to go ahead with, as Khaled mentioned, promoting and enjoying the better and softer side of Pakistani society when such tragedy has again just struck at such close proximity?

I wrote about a similar high-profile fashion event held in Lahore back in February, and at the time mentioned that I was uplifted to know that fashion, the arts and freedom of expression could be enjoyed by at least some in the tumultuous region. One (presumably) native Pakistani reader left a memorable comment on that post read: ‘Yes we are not terrorists we are lovely colourful people.’

I do think that judging from examples of local sentiment that I’ve come across like this, many—perhaps even most—Pakistanis do have a strong desire to have the brighter and creative parts of their culture known to the rest of the world, and for that things like the Lahore and Karachi fashion events will need to be kept on.