Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2010, Shanghai

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Theme of Pakistan Pavilion

The designer and theme developer of the Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2010, Shanghai is Mr. Asad Wahid who is also tasked with being the director of the Pakistan Section at Expo 2010. In coming up with the theme he states that there are not many places in the world that can boast the strong combination of rich history and diversity as the land known as Pakistan with thousands of years old history of its people having direct experiences from Greek, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, British Sikh, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Buddhist and Hindu cultures, traditions and religions. Hence, Pakistan is gifted with an abundance of diversity in terms of its people, their culture, traditions and languages. Furthermore, the country itself is blessed with strikingly diverse landscapes and natural resources. Unlike the numerous countries of the world where culture and languages are homologous, Pakistan is gifted with an abundance of diversity in terms of its people, their culture, traditions and languages.

Furthermore, the country itself is blessed with strikingly diverse landscapes and natural resources. Keeping aside the temporary and artificial conflict in our area, the century’s old harmonious relations of the diverse people of this part of the world are to be projected which will include the ancient culture such as the remains of Gandhara civilization coexisting with modern life of Islamabad in close proximity, the serene life of the rural parts of Pakistan supporting the ultra modern urban areas and most importantly the diverse culture uniting to make a common place to live founded on the principle of equality for all under the guiding principles of the founder of Pakistan ‘Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’.

Keeping in this line, the theme of Pakistan pavilion was chosen to be ‘Harmony in Diversity’ i.e. the best city of the world is in harmony with its diversity. Furthermore, no amount of modern development can be a substitute for the lessons derived from experiences gained by the collective wisdom accumulated over thousands of years. Therefore, all future developments must keep an eye on such lessons. The harmonious way in which the architecture of all the numerous and varied influences of great civilizations of the world have been incorporated in the Lahore fortress to make it such a beautiful structure symbolizes the reality that the differences of the people of the world can also be channelized into a cooperative and harmonious effort where the positive progress of humankind is the sole goal of the population of the world and this is the overall message behind the Pakistan Pavilion.

Architecture of Pakistan Pavilion and its Inspiration

The Pakistan Pavilion is an exact replica of the ‘Lahore’ Fort made on a ground + 1 level.

The Lahore Fort is an epitomic symbol of the city of Lahore in Northwest of Pakistan which since its creation changed hands from Greek, Persian, Afghan, Sikh , British and Muslim influences to becoming the cultural capital and the heart of modern day Pakistan. The Lahore fort has also been declared a world heritage site by the United Nations.

Side view of the actual Lahore Fort

The citadel is spread over approximately 50 acres and is trapezoidal in form. Although the origin of this fort goes deep into antiquity, the present fortifications were begun by Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. There is evidence that a mud fort was in existence here in 1021, when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded this area. Akbar demolished the old mud fort and constructed most of the modern fort on the old foundations. The fort’s mud construction dates back to the early Hindu period. The fort is mentioned in connection with Muhammad Sam’s invasions of Lahore in 1180, 1184, and 1186. It was ruined by the Mongols in 1241, and then rebuilt by Balban in 1267. It was again destroyed by Amir Taimur’s army in 1398, to be rebuilt in mud by Sultan Mubarak Shah in 1421, then taken and repaired by Shaikh Ali. The present fort, in brick and solid masonry, was built during Akbar’s reign between 1556 and 1605. Every succeeding Mughal emperor, as well as the Sikhs and the British, added a pavilion, palace, or wall to the Lahore Fort, making it the only monument in Pakistan which represents a complete history of Mughal architecture.

The Pakistan Pavilion depicts the intricate, exotic and unique blend of the past and the present through the theme of harmony in diversity. Pakistan is also one of the greatest examples in the world where the modernity blends seamlessly with the past. Where culture and traditions merge with the present and the future in a rich amalgamation of an unforgettably unique experience for both the city’s citizens and visitors alike. Using Pakistan’s rich history, colourful culture, diverse people, traditions, landscape and other unique features as a template, all the ideal aspects of Pakistan shall be incorporated in Pakistan Pavilion’s presentation as part an ideal city of the present and the future.

The single biggest difference between the Pakistan Pavilion in Expo 2010 and other Expo’s before is the large size and scale on which the pavilion has been built. It is a well known fact that the strong relations between the two countries is not just limited to the governments of our two great nations but rather extend to the grass root level of the populations of Pakistan and China. In view of such strong bonds between the two countries and also the fact that Pakistan was given a special space to build its pavilion right next to the Chinese pavilion, we decided that the Pakistan Pavilion would have to be the most grand and the biggest pavilion ever built in any world expo by Pakistan and this is the reason why we have made the Pakistan pavilion a self built structure on a 2000 sq. yard plot utilizing the latest cutting edge technology on the inside to show case the importance we attribute to China and its people. Read more of this post

United we stand, divided we fall!

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Nosheen Saeed:

On 14th August 1947, Pakistanis achieved their cherished goal of freedom and established Pakistan as an independent sovereign State, where they could live freely with honour, dignity and self-respect. God blessed Pakistan with enormous wealth, resources, potentialities and possibilities. To utilize these gifts, God provided talented, committed and enterprising people, possessing a vision, ability and devotion. Every Pakistani had the opportunity to contribute towards his homeland by serving it honestly, sincerely and selflessly thus leading his homeland towards progress, prosperity and development.

The early departure of Quaid-e-Azam left Pakistan in a state of quandary. Every successive government was worse than the other; each blamed the other for its deceptive and destructive policies. The previous being the devil and the current pristine. This tug of war weakened institutions and law and order. Intolerance grew giving birth to sectarianism and discrimination between caste, creed and communities. Government after government shelved national wellbeing and worked towards personal and vested interests. Those who were against the creation of Pakistan became the ruling class. To perpetuate their rule, they trampled fundamental law, morals, values, principles, traditions, discipline and code of conduct.

The issues held dear by the Quaid, national integrity, social justice, faith and supremacy of law were shrouded. The Quaid’s image was modified to suit the dubious ends of our time tested, tried and failed politicians. This cliché took over the State and ruled over it like a colony imposing its rule on the slaves – hapless people. Lacking originality, vision, sincerity and having no notion of governance, leave alone good governance, unleashed a reign of confusion. Our social and religious ideology succumbed to pressures and quick fixes. Consequently, it was misconstrued and adjusted according to circumstances. Democracy suffered at the hands of civil and military oligarchs. A reign of corruption, favouritism and personal aggrandizement was unleashed, killing merit, competence and professionalism. Infringement and contravention sowed the seeds of provincialism and sectarianism. Instead of galvanizing the people towards national integrity and following the Quaid’s motto of unity, faith and discipline, dissension and diversion, set in. Loot and plunder of the State’s riches continued by mercenaries, the rich became richer and the poor became poorer thus with the passage of time an unbridgeable gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ widened.

The Quaid found it painful to see the curse of provincialism holding sway over Pakistan. It was imperative to get rid of this evil which he considered a relic of the old administration when people clung to provincial autonomy and local liberty of action to avoid British control. After the creation of Pakistan, having one’s own central government, it was a folly to continue to think in the same terms. This is truth easily forgotten by people who begin to prize local, sectional or provincial interest above national interests. In the words of the Quaid, “Local attachments have their value but what is the value and strength of a part, except within a whole.” He further emphasized, “Our duty to the State comes first; our duty to our province, to our district, to our town and to our village and ourselves comes next.” On another occasion he stated, “You must learn to distinguish between your love for your province and your love and duty to the State as a whole, our duty to the State takes us a stage beyond provincialism. It demands a broader sense of vision and greater sense of patriotism.” He asked to pause and consider before taking any step whether it would be conditioned by ones personal or local likes or would be determined by consideration of the good of the State: “Representative governments and representative institutions are no doubt good and desirable, but when people want to reduce them merely to channels of personal aggrandizement, they not only lose their value but earn a bad name.” A bright future lay ahead if individuals, both officials and non-officials, play their part and work in this spirit. Pakistan would emerge as one of the greatest nations of the world.

While talking on the subject of sectarianism, the Quaid declared, “If you want to build up yourself into a Nation, for god’s sake give up this provincialism. Provincialism has been one of the curses; and so is sectionalism – Shia, Sunni etc.” He warned the Nation not to fall into the trap of the enemies of Pakistan who were unfortunately Muslims financed by outsiders.
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Sadequain is arguably responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan

Sadequain is arguably responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan.

February 10 marks Sadequain’s 23rd death anniversary. Sadequain Foundation estimates he painted close to 15,000 paintings, murals, calligraphies and drawings. Most of his work was gifted to institutions, individuals, acquaintances, and total strangers. Sadequain, at the time of his death was painting the stupendous ceiling mural at the Frere Hall, which though left incomplete, nonetheless, adorns the ceiling of the historic building.

Sadequain is arguably responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan. A review of the history of calligraphic art in the country during the decades of the 1950s and ’60s reveals that there was minimal activity in this genre of art form. Syed Amjad Ali wrote in his book, Painters of Pakistan, that after Sadequain’s first exhibition of calligraphies in December 1968, “For next fifteen years or sixteen years, a veritable Niagara of painterly calligraphy flowed from his pen and brush. He initiated painterly calligraphy and set the vogue for it in Pakistan.”

Calligraphy by Sadequain “Kalma-e-Tayeba”

Calligraphic art had enjoyed a revered status in the subcontinent, reaching its pinnacle during the glorious days of the Mughal Empire. But after the downfall of the empire, calligraphic art fell so far out of favour that in post-partition Pakistan, it was considered to be a mere vocational skill and not a serious genre of creative art. Searching for a new form of expression, Sadequain commemorated Ghalib’s anniversary by illustrating his poetry in 1968. To enhance the paintings, he inscribed Ghalib’s verses in Urdu to append the paintings, and that experiment later led to more calligraphic inscriptions in the Arabic language.

Calligraphies by Sadequain: Illustration of “Sura-e-Rehman”

In a manner similar to his figurative paintings, Sadequain followed the same principles in his calligraphic art. His calligraphies represent the most radical departure from the established norms for hundreds of years. The centuries-old guarded traditions, watchful eyes of the religious police, or pitfalls of the uncharted waters did not deter him from going where few had ventured before him. He invented his own iconography and produced a dizzying array of calligraphic marvels at such large scales that had not been witnessed in recent history. His art became the most effective ambassador for the country and his impact was so profound, that on a number of occasions, Pakistan was represented in international forums only by Sadequain’s masterpieces.

Special mention must be made of some of Sadequain’s major works, which are spread over Pakistan, India, and the Middle East. He inscribed four versions of complete sets of the beautiful Verse, Sura-e-Rehman; the first two versions of the Verse, which consisted of 31 panels, have been preserved, one at Staff College Lahore and one with a private collector. Another version, consisting of 40 panels was painted on transparent cellophane. The fourth version of the Verse was painted on marble slabs, which Sadequain gifted to the citizens of Karachi in a ceremony held on the lawns of the Frere Hall in 1986. The intent was to place the complete set of 40 marble slabs on permanent display at the Gallery Sadequain of Frere Hall. But soon after Sadequain passed away, all forty panels disappeared from the premises, leaving no trace behind.

Paintings on display at the Mohatta Palace Museum

“Saga of Labor” Portion of the Mural at Mangla Dam – largest mural in Pakistan 200 ft x 70 ft

During the early 1970s, Sadequain completed several large calligraphies for the historic Lahore Museum, and gifted them to the citizens of Lahore. Eight of these large calligraphic panels, each measuring approximately 20 x 20 feet, are on display in the Islamic Gallery of the museum. He also inscribed Sura-e-Yaseen on to a wooden panel measuring 260 feet long and gifted it to the Islamic Gallery of the Lahore Museum. A large calligraphic mural adorns the power station at Abu Dhabi, which Sadequain completed in 1980.

During his stay in India, end of 1981 through 1982, Sadequain painted several large calligraphic paintings and murals. One of the most significant calligraphic works was the rendition of the 99 panels of Asma-e-Husna (the beautiful names of God) that he inscribed on the circular wall of the rotunda, which towers an imposing five stories high in the Indian Institute of Islamic Studies at Delhi. This rendition of 99 panels is one of the three complete sets he finished in his life. In addition to the calligraphic work at the Indian Institute of Islamic Studies at Delhi, Sadequain painted or sculpted calligraphic works at Aligarh Muslim University, Ghalib Academy, Jamia Millia, and the tomb of Tipu Sultan. In his customary practice, Sadequain gifted all this work to the Indian authorities. In addition to painting the murals and calligraphies in India, he exhibited his works at Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Aligarh, Banaras, and several other cities.(Edited excerpts from the book ‘The legend of Sadequain’ by Sadequain Foundation)

THOUGHTS ABOUT SADEQUAIN’S CALLIGRAPHY

Annemarie Schimmel

“One of the most exciting experiences of an orientalist is the discovery of mutual relations between various aspects of Islamic culture. The study of the visual arts in Islam excellently complements that of poetry, and poetry can often help to elucidate particular aspects of miniature painting and, even more, of calligraphy. For Islam, the first religion to distinguish between those who were blessed by a Divine Scripture and those who were not, has always largely dwelt upon the importance of the written word. A contemporary historian of medieval philosophy at Harvard has even coined the term “inliberation” God, God’s becoming manifest through a book for Islam, denote the theological concept corresponding to the Christian “incarnation”, God being manifest in a human being.


It is therefore small wonder that the imagery of letters and writing plays such an immense role in the history of Islamic poetry. Beginning with the early Sufis of the 8th and 9th centuries who realized in the letter “alif” the perfect symbol of God’s unity and unicity, there is barely a poet in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian not to mention those writing in Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, and Pushto, and even in the vernaculars of Islamic Africa, who has not dwelt upon the imagery of letters, for here he could be sure that his allusions were under-stood by everyone in the Islamic world, including the illiterate at the least sensed the deep meaning of letters, and knew of their mysterious powers.”

Click here to know more about Sadequain

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