South Asian “truck art” has inspired gallery exhibitions abroad, even prompted stores in posh London neighborhoods to sell miniature pieces
For the drivers, the designs that turn decades-old vehicles into moving murals are often about local pride
Truck art has become one of Pakistan’s best-known cultural exports
Islamabad, Pakistan, June 14, 2017: They pollute the roads and chug along at a snail’s pace, but to their Pakistani owners the rickety trucks are moving pieces of art, commanding attention with garish portraits of flowers, Islamic art and snow-capped Himalayan peaks.
South Asian “truck art” has become a global phenomenon, inspiring gallery exhibitions abroad and prompting stores in posh London neighbourhoods to sell flamboyant miniature pieces. Yet closer to home, some people sneer and refuse to call it “art.”
For the drivers, the designs that turn decades-old vehicles into moving murals are often about local pride. Picking the right color or animal portrait is tougher than the countless hours spent on the road.
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Truck driver Haji Ali Bahadur, from the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, said green and yellow have been his colors of choice during 40 years behind the wheel.
“We, the drivers of Khyber, Mohmand and other tribal regions like flowers on the edge of the vehicles,” he said. “The people of Swat, South Waziristan and Kashmir region like portraits of mountains and different wild animals.”
Truck art has become one of Pakistan’s best known cultural exports, and offshoot toy and furniture industries have been spawned closer to home.
With Pakistan’s economy picking up speed and new roads opening up trade routes to China, truck art may soon find new admirers abroad. (VOA)
Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.
The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.
The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.
The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.
No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.
The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.
“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.
The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.
A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.
The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.
Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.