UK artists on the war on terror


British artists supported by Repreive, an international non-profit organisation which helps fight human rights cases for those who cannot hire lawyers because of financial reasons, were at the Drawing Room Art Gallery where Pakistani artists had depicted their impressions of terrorism and US drone attacks on Pakistan in various forms of art. Reprieve Founder and Director Clive Stafford Smith was also present on the occasion.
The works of Pakistani artists, including Hasnat Mehmood (ink on paper), Haider Ali Jan (comic series), Imran Mudassar, Sheraz Faisal, Waseem Ahmed (Gouche/ mixed media on archival paper), Jamil Baloch (acrylic and fibre glass), Faiza Butt, Saba Khan, Ayesha Jatoi and Fariha Batool were displayed. The foreign artists expressed their awe at the works exhibited and said that they “must take some home with them”. “These are wonderful, and they must be shown back home to others,” said Stafford. He added that their group was visiting Pakistan especially for research purposes, so that they could go back and work on art pieces inspired by the situation here, especially in the drone-struck areas. “We met at a conference in England, where we focused on some photographs by this brilliant Pakistani in the Waziristan areas. We all decided to work on a similar basis and produce some art at our own pace, on the same theme,” Alexa, who aims at highlighting the psychological aspect from behind the scenario, said. “We are all working in our different ways,” she said. “I want to highlight from the psychological aspect what has touched everyone concerned with these drone attacks.”
Stafford, in a separate interview with Pakistan Today said that he had visited Guantanamo Bay and had seen how the inmates had been treated. “We want to establish dialogue and transparency,” he said. “The West should know what this is resulting in and it’s absolutely ridiculous to say that the people captured are all terrorists and that no innocent people are killed. We must show everyone that this is wrong.” He emphasised upon his intense dislike and distaste for the foreign policies of both, the US and UK (his own country), adding that the ground realities needed to be shown.
“Bugsplat, which is the title of this exhibition, refers to the person who is killed in a drone attack, while one who escapes is called a squirter, in US war-terminology,” he revealed. He said he would also travel to Waziristan and attend a jirga for research reasons. “We were stunned by the photos taken by Noor Behram of the drone areas and victims. Many who have been picked up as a result of this US war on terror, were picked up thanks to a deal between Musharraf and Bush. In this there was a 14-year old boy who was also taken to prison. Imagine the trauma with which he will be scarred for the rest of his life.”