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Unforgettable Pakistan

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New Emissary

Unforgettable Pakistan

A student visits home and finds only photos can relay the reality -and an urgent call for help.

‘I took these photographs to show the world that Pakistan is suffering, and it needs help—any help.’  

It’s hard to believe that Komail Naqvi is still a student in his twenties, studying marketing at the prestigious Sauder School of Business in Vancouver. With his acutely sensitive eye for capturing the precise moments—literally—on film that convey what seem like the very essence of humanity, combined with the ability to present it all with eye-catching presentation, he seems wise beyond his years.

Naqvi’s recent photos from Sindh Province in Pakistan, which can be seen in our latest photo essay, A Tale of Devastation, have a soft brightness to them, yet each simultaneously have a strikingly sharp effect on the viewer that goes beyond the contextual. Indeed, the floods that struck the South Asian nation this summer are no less than devastating, and any images from the disaster are sure to evoke strong emotions in most viewers. However, Naqvi, perhaps thanks in part to his strong connection to the country plus his obvious natural talent as a photographer, still brings a certain something extra to his work here.

I spoke this weekend to the Pakistani native, who lived his entire life in Karachi before moving to Vancouver to pursue his studies three years ago. He told me that he only took up professional photography a little over a year ago. Asked how he’s finding it, he says he’s ‘really been enjoying the journey so far.’

On his recent trip home:

‘This summer I had returned home at a time when it was going through great hardship. It’s without any doubt the greatest tragedy in the world right now. From the city I took part in various flood relief activities with the support of numerous colleges. The youth of the country have really stepped forward and provided their support.’

Inclined to do more:

‘However, despite all this I wanted to personally go out towards interior Sindh to all the flood affected areas and try to help out the flood survivors there in any way I could. We took along hundreds of one-person rations and collected financial aid, which we handed over to navy and military camps who would best know how to channel the resources in providing efficient and effective aid. I would be lying if I said that I was able to capture even a small facet of the magnitude of the situation over there with the photos. It was quite upsetting to see my fellow citizens suffering terribly at the hands of the menacing flood.’

Unforgettable Pakistan 2

On some of what he saw first-hand:

‘People are living in makeshift shelters, there’s hardly any clean water, diseases are spreading now due to the contamination, little children were holding on to their broken toys, mothers were holding on to their critically-ill children, fathers were holding on to their devastated wives. Their entire lives have been washed away right before their eyes, and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. I sat down with one of the village farmers and he broke into tears almost as soon as conversation commenced. All he had left was his land, and with that gone he couldn’t understand how he was now going to provide for his family.’

Images by Komail Naqvi.