Lahore (Qasim Ali) Glowing tributes were paid to two icons of Pakistan, theatre director Madeeha Gauhar and human rights champion I A Rehman at an international online memorial meeting on Sunday. The meeting was organized by Ajoka Theatre to mark the 3rd death anniversary of its founder who passed away o 25 April 2018.
Human rights campaigners and theatre professionals from Pakistan, India, US, Canada and UK attended the event. They included Justice ® Nasira Javed Iqal, Hussain Naqi, PNCA Director General and cultural activist Fawzia Saeed, poet and playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed, former chair of the Commission on the Status of Women and author Khawar Mumtaz, noted Scholar Dr Mohammad Waseem and actor Savera Nadeem from Pakistan and leading labour rights activist and socialist Farooq Tariq. The participants from India included feminist scholar and activist Kamla Bhasin, world renowned Indian theatre director Neelam Mansingh, Chair of Sangeet Natak Academy, Punjab and founder of Manch Rang Manch theatre group, Kewal Dhaliwal, theatre scholar Arvinder Dhaliwal and Theatre actor and director Sahib Singh. The guests also included Third World Solidarity founder Mushtaq Lashari CBE, and Barrister Huma Price from London. Those who joined from the US included human rights campaigner Marvi Sarmad, former Ajoka actor and PTV Producer Furqan Majeed, Madeeha’s friend and economist Zeba Hyder, and musician and former diplomat Lewis Elbinger. Leading Ajoka actor Hina Tariq from Canada and human rights scholar and Madeeha’s niece Neha Gauhar from Switzerland also joined. Others who spoke at the meeting included Ajoka’s Chair Zara Salman, General Secretary Sohail Warraich, Arzoo Ali Gauhar, Shoaib Sultan, Naseem Abbas and Madeeha’s son Sarang Nadeem. The speakers shared their memories of both I.A. Rehman and Madeeha Gauhar and the profound impact of the two icons on the causes of democracy, peace and cultural freedoms. They highlighted their contribution towards peace with India and steadfast opposition to the menace of fundamentalism in Pakistan.
Ajoka’s directors Shahid Nadeem and Nirvaan Nadeem hosted the event.
A video showing images of Mr Rehman’s support for Ajoka and Madeeha’s work was also shown. The event ended with the screening of extracts from PTV’s landmark drama serial, ”Neelay Hath” which was inspired by Madeeha’s activism during the times of General Zia ul Haq. She also played the lead role in the serial.