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Gallery Owner Delivers Unity Message Through Dil Aur Asmaan

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Toronto: A Toronto-based art expert, originally from Laore, is trying to find common threads in the historic canvas that bind the South Asian experiences.  Fourth Eye Gallery is  owned by Ameena Choudhry and she is the force behind the  Canadian debut of a much respected artist from India, Bajrang Lal Suthar, titled Dil Aur Asmaan.  She says the exhibition aims to promote a wider understanding of contemporary South Asian art within and outside Canada.

The exhibit consists of twenty five mixed-media paintings, a majority of which are water colour and poster paint on cardstock. The pieces chosen span the beginning of his career to the present. Each painting is painstakingly rendered in the South Asian miniature style.

Suthar has a fascinating story to tell. Born in Rajasthan, India, Bajrang found himself striving against limitations after suffering physical injury at the age of eighteen, rendering him paraplegic from neck below. Challenged to reconsider every facet of his life, from his identity to his physical capabilities, Bajrang commenced an exploration of the ways in which he could continue to engage the world and express himself within it. With remaining mobility in two fingers on his left hand, he evolved a skill for painting, finding new means to roam and experience the world imaginatively. One piece often takes two to three weeks to complete. It will stay open from Jan 26 till May 4 at 438 Parliament Street in Toronto.

Ameena explained her motivations to Voice in an interview. “My experience for a year at the National College of Art (NCA), one of the premiere art institutions in Pakistan, coupled with hands-on research at the Lahore Museum, helped me understand what informed our artistic history and the resulting contemporary movements of today. I moved to England to complete a degree in the art history and archaeology of Asia focusing on ancient Indian art, because I felt it was necessary to understand the shared history of Pakistan and India.”
Ameena is not sure if there is a space for a commercially viable South Asian art gallery to survive, but she says, that young artists from South Asia have often told her that their works reach the US, but not Canada. She says, “Currently, my focus is just on providing a space for South Asian contemporary artists to be viewed in Canada by an audience that has had limited exposure to these cutting-edge reflections of socio-political and innovative expression. I’ve received an enthusiastic response to the upcoming exhibit which is indicative of a receptive audience for future shows.”
Ameena is full of admiration for the work of Suthar who she points out has an “ability to speak on a deeply personal level, regardless of physical limitations”. She adds, “Despite his debilitating paralysis he paints with concentration, his art providing him with an outlet he himself never thought possible, for he remained confined in a rural village in Rajasthan. His confident use of colour and original subject-matter provide us works of art that are individual and movingly incomparable.”

 

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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