Boosting Performing Art Skills of Theatre Artistes working on Social Change

The PUKAR theatre group performing at a local village after the training on Interactive Theatre for Influencing in 2019.

Imam Uddin Soomro is an active member of the Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), an alliance of small-scale and landless farmers including women farmers. Imam collects data on crops and conducts awareness sessions for farmers on sustainable agriculture, green revolution and globalization. As a member of a local theatre group named, PUKAR, since 2018, Imam also performs as an interactive theatre artiste in rural villages, organises learning events and writes articles on agriculture and farmers’ rights in local languages.

The PKMT was formed in 2008 as a result of a series of discussions among powerless farmers and social and political activists who felt that an organised platform to voice their demands was essential for small-scale farmers facing social and economic constraints.

“We perform plays that enable us to interact with different communities. The theatre plays address issues that are part of the PKMT struggle, including feudalism and the impact of corporate agriculture. As a theater performer, I was selected as a participant in a training tilted, Interactive Theater for Influencing, in July 2019. The training provided technical knowledge and capacity building opportunities on skills required to influence communities to bring about progress in the society. Our skills of script-writing, communications and character-building were further enhanced in the seven-day residential training.” said Imam.

All seven members of the PUKAR theater group participated in the training which gave them networking and experience- sharing opportunities with other like-minded participants. The session on ‘team building’ and ‘inhibition breaking’ helped participants self-assess themselves and understand their pivotal and influential position in society. Participants learnt about stage directions, allowing the audience to grasp every performers’ act and the message they are conveying through their role plays.

“We met with other theater groups from Peshawar, Sindh and Islamabad. All the groups had different interactive skills to perform as we all engage with different kinds of audiences. The members of other groups shared the issues they highlighted through their plays and how they passed on the resolutions,” shared Imam.

On the last day of the training, participants developed action plans to further implement the learning and skills learnt during the training.

“Initially, we would randomly select issues and base our plays on those issues. After the training, we altered our strategy. We now plan a meeting to identify the common issues that are prevalent in the communities through meetings with community members and develop a script for the play accordingly to work together to rectify the challenges people are facing. CWSA has extended support in reviewing the scripts which we plan to avail,” expressed Imam.

A group exercise that engaged the training participants in planning a theater play with other members of the group allowed collaborative learning and practical experience-sharing through coordination among the members. Imam narrated,

“When we acted with other theater performers, we learnt to show strong facial expressions as that also largely impacts the deliverance of the message and not just the dialogues. This joint exercise helped in modifying our acting and delivery gestures in order to have an even stronger impact in the communities we perform.”

Boosting Performing Art Skills of Theatre Artistes working on Social Change

Free virus testing for workers demanded

May 02, 2020
PESHAWAR: The rights activists on Friday demanded of the government to start free mass coronavirus testing, especially for workers and farmers, besides ensuring their social protection.

The demand was made during a webinar organised by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek and NGO Roots for Equity here to mark the Labour Day.

The panelists included labour and peasant leaders and rights activists from different cities, including Dr Azra Talat Sayeed, Tariq Mehmood, Raja Mujeeb, Junaid Awan, Zahoor Joya and Wali Haider.

They said the Covid-19 pandemic had not only exposed the ineffectiveness of the capitalist system to deal with a crisis but also its ‘criminal tendency’ to disregard hunger and impoverishment suffered by the people at the current critical juncture prioritising profits over people.

The panelists said with the people not a priority, the country’s public health expenditure had never exceeded three per cent of the national budget.

They added that in the face of the pandemic, deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation policies were the structural reasons for the workers facing joblessness, financial instability and lack of health and other forms of social protection.

The panelists said that in the pre-neoliberal era, workers were given job protection, healthcare, education, shelter and other facilities.

They said under privatisation, even the right to permanent job security had been eroded and that was the basic reason for joblessness, poverty and hunger in the country, which had aggravated under the pandemic.

The panelists said during the Covid-19 crisis, factories and businesses had been closed leaving workers with acute economic hardship.

They said according to the provincial planning and development department, if the lockdown continued than 460,000 workers, including daily wagers and street vendors, would be left without a livelihood.

The panelists said in the Hattar Industrial zone, many hundreds of workers had already been laid off.

They claimed that the relief package provided by the federal and provincial governments was inaccessible for a majority of workers due to lack of registration and other handicaps.

The panelists said women faced increased domestic violence under the pandemic as well as economic hardship and hunger.

They said self-sufficiency and self reliance including food-self sufficiency was a critical element for national stability and development and that was only possible when workers had full access and control over resources and production to pave the way for a peaceful prosperous sovereign nation without the shackles of imperialism.

The panelists demanded of the government to guarantee incomes and benefits, cash grants and relief for the working people and nationalise public health system, respect democratic and human rights.

They said sanctions against Iran, Palestine and several other countries should be lifted.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2020

کورونا کا سبق: سرمایہ داری کا خاتمہ لازم

یکم مئی: مزدوروں کا عالمی دن
پریس ریلز
یکم مئی 2020

دنیا بھر میں یکم مئی، 1886 میں شکاگو کے مزدوروں کی جدوجہد کی یاد میں مزدوروں کے عالمی دن کے طور پر منایا جاتا ہے۔ پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک (پی کے ایم ٹی) اور روٹس فار ایکوٹی نے لاک ڈاؤن کی پابندیوں کے پیش نظر اس دن کی مناسبت سے جدوجہد کو آگے بڑھانے کے لیے ایک آن لائن مزاکرہ کا اہتمام کیا۔ جس میں ملک بھر سے مزدور کسان رہنماؤں اور کسان دوست ساتھیوں نے شرکت کی۔

کورونا وائرس کی موجودہ وبائی صورتحال نے ناصرف سرمایہ دارانہ نظام کی نااہلی اور سفاکیت کو بے نقاب کیا ہے جو بھوک، غربت اور وبائی صورتحال میں بھی خود کو برقرار رکھنے کے لیے عوامی فلاح پر منافع کو فوقیت دے رہا ہے بلکہ سامراجیت پر مبنی مزدور دشمن پالیسیوں کے بھیانک اثرات کو بھی مزید واضح کررہا ہے۔ آزاد تجارت پر مبنی پالیسیوں نے ریاستوں کو اس حال میں لاکھڑا کیا ہے کہ وہ اس وباء کو روکنے اور عوامی ضروریات پوری کرنے کے لیے درکار مالی، مادی اور انسانی وسائل کے لیے اپنا اختیار استعمال کرنے سے بھی قاصر ہیں۔ یاد رہے پاکستان جیسے ممالک میں صحت عامہ کے لیے مختص کیا گیا بجٹ کبھی بھی مجموعی بجٹ کا تین فیصد سے زیادہ نہیں رکھا گیا اور صحت کے شعبہ کو مجموعی طور پر نجی شعبہ کے حوالے کردیا گیا اور آج ہمارے صحت کے نظام کی انتہائی ناقص سہولیات اور بدانتظامی بے نقاب ہورہی ہے۔ دولت مند آمر طبقہ تو بچ کر نکل ہی جائے گا لیکن یہ صورتحال مزدور و محنت کش طبقہ کے لیے بدترین ہے۔ Continue reading

PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative proceeding towards Harvesting

Under the PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative, farmers from all over Pakistan have started agroecological farms. They have sown the traditional seeds and make organic compost. As time passes the farmers from Sindh and Punjab are now sampling the crops and started harvesting and thrashing.

The farmers from Shikarpur, Ghotki Tando M Khan (Sind) and Multan (Punjab) are busy working in the fields.


Preparation of Green Compost at the lands of women Farmers in Punjab and Sindh

Under the base of PKMT Jazba farmers cooperative there are four Agro ecological farms which tend by women. A woman’s presence led farms are entirely new experience and will be a model for rural women empowerment. Farmers are having meetings and preparing green compost for their crops.


Preparation of green compost in Multan, Punjab

A woman gathering dead leaves of trees for making compost

Sindh Jazba cooperative farmers having meeting in Shikarpur, Sindh after a visit to farmers while making green compost