‘Rise in terrorism linked to decline in arts’

June 2nd, 2008 - 3:11 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, June 2 (IANS) Pakistan’s most famous puppeteer Farooq Qaiser has drawn an unusual link between the growth in extremism and a decline in interest in the arts, prompting a leading newspaper to say the idea “needs further study and assessment”. The linkage “is a fascinating one” and “needs further study and assessment as we attempt to understand the violence and militancy that has today become a part of life,” The News said Monday in an editorial titled “Outlet for anger”.

“Such an understanding is of course crucial to countering it,” it maintained, adding that Qaiser’s suggestion that puppet theatres and other performing arts provide an outlet for suppressed sentiments within society “is worth taking note of”.

Qaiser had floated the idea during a radio interview last month.

“Certainly, it is true that drama, puppet shows and even dance or music help people express and thereby cope with emotions”, the newspaper said.

“It is also true that the rise in extremism has coincided with a decline in arts, and this is something that deserves thought,” it added.

Offering people means other than guns to demonstrate feelings of anger directed against authority is important and the street theatre groups active in the country have seen enthusiastic involvement of people in such performances, The News noted.

“Quite evidently, the simple plays that touch on themes of social oppression or injustice strike a deep chord with people subjected for years to such insidious violence,” it added.

In this context, the editorial contended that both as a potential means to channelise social rage and to promote the arts, “there is need to do more to protect the cultural decline we are seeing in Pakistan.

“Traditional puppetry, so long a crucial part of society, has been allowed to slip into near-oblivion. In contrast, puppetry has grown and flourished in other South Asian nations due to state support,” the editorial contended.

Noting that Pakistan had inherited a rich and diverse cultural past, The News said: “We owe it to our future generations to preserve this heritage and indeed, given the needs of today, to also use it as a means to battle the bigotry and intolerance that sadly exist everywhere in our country.”

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