The 3-day 10th International THAAP Conference took a successful start in Lahore on the 1st of November. The conference was organized by THAAP in collaboration with the Institute of Art and Culture; IAC. With the objective of progressing into a more evolved state of society, THAAP conferences provide a platform to people from around the world, to have a healthy discussion on the papers presented by professionals, scholars and students. The theme for the year 2019 was “Citizen and the City”. Delegates from Australia, China, Germany, Switzerland, India and Pakistan took part in the conference. The inaugural session commenced by Prof. Pervaiz Vandal’s warm welcome address to the conference delegates, honored guests and participants. The Chief Guest for the opening ceremony was Prof. Dr. Tariq Rehman who is D. Litt., Distinguished HEC Professor, and Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Beaconhouse National University. The Guest of Honor was Prof. Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin, Former Chairman, Punjab Higher Education Commission and Pro-Rector Superior University Lahore.
The Keynote address was delivered by Ar./Plnr. Kalim Siddiqui, Chairman of Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners & President of Commonwealth Association of Architects. He talked extensively about the crisis of global urban sprawl by highlighting issues of migration and incompatible by-laws in major cities of Pakistan. As a president of Commonwealth Association of Architects, he also talked extensively about sustainable development goals set under Commonwealth and brought to light the urgency to work on development of Architectural and Urban Planning professions and education to strengthen the built environment of the cities in South Asian region.
The keynote address was followed by opening remarks by Guest of Honor Prof. Dr. Nizamuddin who talked about the need for acceptance of aging population and marginalized gender spaces. He talked about the paradoxical situation where even living in the democratic countries, there is a need to address citizen’s rights to the cities. He went on to highlight some of the key issues of Pakistani societies, population being one of the major issues, which will later aggravate issues of food safety, health, housing and infrastructural incompatibility.
The Chief Guest Prof. Dr. Tariq Rehman commended Prof. Pervaiz Vandal’s non-profit efforts for conducting academic conference that undergo a very systematic process of selection and analysis of papers. He talked about human rights, linguistic history, politics, philosophical questions as to what is a rights to the city, apart from its right to art, architecture, urban development, human rights and public and social policy. In our society, rights of citizens are mostly related to power or the idea of genial line. He talked about how modern cities of Pakistan have lessened the avenues of social inclusion, leading to psychological problems in citizens by comparing human instinct with hunter gatherer societies.
Prof. Shahnawaz Zaidi recited some of his poems titled Lahore, Ramzan, Perdais & Perdaisi to an applauding audience highlighting the little details of everyday life primarily in the city of Lahore.
The conference of 2019 was divided into eight sessions. The first session of the conference was chaired by Prof. Dr. Anis Siddiqui, Dean School of Architecture, Art and Design, Humanities and Social Sciences, Imperial College of Business Studies (ICBS). Dr. Khataumal on “Citizens and the City: Urban Dynamics in Pakistan and the Region” highlighted issues of how road and infrastructural development has disrupted the traditional village setup of Tharparkar, resulting in drought, health problems and food shortage. He emphasized how technology connected the cities but divided the inhabitants. Waqas Halim presented on “Negotiating Identity in Smart Urbanity: A Case Study of Lahore”. He highlighted how the provision of smart utilities go hand in hand with making sure that the people are also made smart and critiqued on technology not being an instrument but a way of getting an insight about the world. Raza Naeem in his paper titled “Manto’s Amritsar, Amritsar’s Manto: Saadat Hasan Manto, the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and the Trauma of a Rebel City” went on to narrate from few of Manto’s writings, the themes that show how Jalianwala Bagh’s incident is prevalent in many of Manto’s writings, including tamasha, 1919 ki ek bat, dewana shair and Swaraj k liey. He gave a descriptive historical narrative of the turn of events that led to psychological turmoil that has been reflected quite vividly in Manto’s writings. The paper threw an insight into a writer’s experiences of rebellion, struggle and compromise that fruited in a form of powerful and artistic rendition of his short stories.
The second session of the conference was chaired by architect Ahmed Pervaiz Mirza of Architects Affiliation Lahore. The first paper was presented by Sofia Wanchoo Mir on “Transforming Cultural Dynamics in Cities”, the research investigated how cultural and socio economic values of the Shalamar Gardens can be improved with special focus to the awareness, involvement and initiative of the youth. The Shalamar Gardens were chosen to highlight how Lahore possesses a magnificent treasure that is facing numerous issues causing it to be a World Heritage Site in Danger. Dr. Kanwal Khalid on “The Bow Makers of Muhallah Kaman Garani” explored various dimensions of one family in Lahore and the price they had to pay to survive in the field of Technology. Prof. Simon YinFudan’s paper titled “China – Educated Returnees in Karachi”, examined the transforming role of vast number of Pakistani students studying in China and how they make great contributions, both in economics and social terms and transform the urban landscape.
The evening ended with a film screening and a hearty musical evening by the students of IAC.
The third session of the conference held on 2nd November was chaired by Prof. Pervaiz Vandal, Pro-Vice Chancellor Institute for Art and Culture, Lahore and Director THAAP. The first paper was presented by Salman Basharat titled as “Regeneration of Old Buildings through Narrative and its Impact on Urban Wireframe – A Journey towards Futuristic Past”. The research aimed to initiate an intensive commitment with temporary, sensorial and social qualities of space and an engagement of architecture in an urban setting.
Dr. Anwar Shaheen’s research paper titled “Evicted to the Margins: Resettlement and Sufferings of Families Displaced by Lyari Expressway in Karachi” was presented by Ar. Noor Ul Huda. Her paper threw light on drastic repercussions of mass-displacement which was carried out in order to propagate large-scale projects like Lyari Expressway. The paper highlighted social and psychological and ecological impact on the community and area of Lyari; and their longstanding struggle for their social, civic and community rights.
The fourth session was chaired by Ar. Waqar Aziz, Head of Department, Architecture and Design, Comsats University, Lahore. The first paper was presented by Dr. Abdul Haseeb Mir titled “Religion, Radicalism and the Regional Dispute: Understanding Political Discourses Set by the Piety and Politics at Hazratbal Shrine in the Kashmir Conflict”. He talked about the ideological and cultural history that has been distorted and has been substantially radicalized under the recent amendments under the current political regime. Dr. Ali Mohsin’s paper titled “Cash Transfers and the Politics of Distribution: Ambiguous Terrains of Social Protection and Citizenship in Pakistan” stressed on sensitive aspects of socio-political and economic issues. Highlighting the social-cultural disconnect of post-colonial societies, he tried to redefine citizenship as to what it does for people rather than what it actually is, that which should be analyzed with respect to aspirations and rights of the people.
The fifth session was chaired by Dr. Kanwal Khalid, Associate Professor, Institute for Art and Culture. The first paper was presented by Prof. Dr. Noman Ahmed titled “Exploring Urban Dynamics in Architectural Education: Comprehensive Environmental Design Studio (CED) in Two Architecture Schools in Karachi” which has been recognized as a useful educational tool that connects academia with participants in shaping the environment. It enhances observational, participatory and analytical abilities in students and will open up avenues for young architects beyond conventional practice. Soban Khan’s paper titled “The Right to the City(zen) Investigating the Urban Dynamics in Pakistan and the Rights of Citizens” talked about the Pakistani urban population’s struggle to get the basic amenities such as affordable housing, a well-structured transportation infrastructure and better healthcare facilities to live a balanced life. He recommended enhancing the overall infrastructure and the correlation of the infrastructure with the urban fabric. Muhammad Abdullah’s paper titled “Death of the Pedestrians – Signal Free Corridors”, focused on Lahore among other metro cities of Pakistan facing many traffic jams at signals and based on such conditions, the projects of Signal Free Corridors were planned and executed but have failed to facilitate the pedestrians. Hence, the city is becoming more automobile focused as the numbers of vehicles are increasing rapidly.
The sixth session was chaired by Prof. Dr. Neelam Naz, Chairperson, Department of Architecture, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. The first paper was presented by Prof. Dr. Tariq Rehman titled “Language and the City”. The research was focused on the connection of languages with cities and that it was a process which exercises violence towards rural languages and communities. It can lead to communalization and bias resulting in Hindu Muslim tensions and it inevitably results in the subordination of the rural communities of the world. Dr. Muhammad Hameed’s paper titled “Cities, Societies and Religion: A Case Study of Jain Community in Pakistan and their Heritage” focused on archeological and historical evidences of simultaneous existence of multi religious societies living in harmony in Pakistan. It highlighted the fact that everyone is familiar with a number of religions but there is hardly any awareness regarding Jain pantheon and its remnants in our part of ancient Indian subcontinent. Furthermore, the research focused on how Jainism in various parts of Pakistan played a role in development of cities and their social ecology. Zainab Javed’s paper titled “Not an Uprising, but a Conversation – Responding to the Monopolization of the Urban” was read by Neha Fatima. She said that when all else fails, it is through our colonization of spaces and abrupt takeover, ensured by our natural instincts of what the city can become, that results in a display of how we appropriate our urbanity to our own needs and expectations. We need to project our ambitions as an urban society and indulge in some sort of conversation with the urban elite, reminding them of the effectiveness of our self-determined ways of dwelling. The session ended with a lively discussion and Day 2 of 10th International THAAP Conference came to an end.
The seventh session which was held today that is 3rd November was chaired by Prof. Mushtaq Soofi, School of Culture and Language, Institute for Art and Culture, Lahore. Dr. Kashif Khan presented the paper titled “Military Offensive and Forced Migration: Analyzing the Plight of the North Waziristan IDPs”. He said that the war and operation Zarb e Azam in North Waziristan agency has destroyed the social and economic life of the tribal people. As IDP’s have faced financial crises and are not able to build their destructed structures again, the government should reconstruct their schools, markets and hospitals on emergency basis. Government Officials and Donor agencies should utilize the available recourses for aid purposes where the aid is directed for the development, education and rehabilitation of the area. Ghiasuddin Pir and Sahar Saqlain’s paper titled “Confinement and Refinement: The Origins and Evolution of Confinement Spaces for the Treatment of Mentally Challenged Citizens in Lahore, Punjab” went through an evolutionary account of prevalent mental health disorders and associated treatments, the paper provided an overview of evolving rights and responsibilities of mentally challenged citizens through a study of the social and built environment, laws dictating the rights of the insane, historical case studies and firsthand accounts of the current members of Punjab Institute of Mental Health. Prof. Jakelin Troy’s paper titled “Nalawangun we remain: Aboriginal Citizens Shaping the Urban Dynamics of Sydney, Australia” presented a case for the important continuing presence of the Aboriginal traditional owners of Sydney, helping to maintain and renew their language and cultural life.
The eighth session was chaired by Prof. Syed Faisal Sajjad, Head of Department, Architecture, National College of Arts, Lahore. The first paper was presented by Asad Ahmed titled “Urban Transphobia in Cityscapes: Interrogating Lahore as a Safe Space for Transgenders”. His research aimed to sensitize and raise awareness about Urban Transphobia and highlight the problems faced by these individuals. Since these individuals challenge the deep rooted binary gender forms of the society, they often become the epicenter of discrimination, repression and intolerance. Amrita Alam and Intikhab Alam’s paper titled “Delhi – A Home Away from Home”, was presented in a video format focusing on the refugees from Afghanistan who despite the large number of hardships found a new home in India, providing them with basic safety and a chance for a better tomorrow irrespective of how their lives are affected by lack of recognition. Prof. Dr. Samra Mohsin Khan’s paper titled “The Dual City: Political, Cultural and Spatial Segregation of Peshawar during the Colonial Era” was presented by Ar. Sofia Wanchoo Mir. The paper focused on colonial cities and how they came to simultaneously sustain two or more distinct cultures; their segregations and relations, differentiations and amalgamations, domination and re-sistance. Dr. Humera Naz in her paper titled “Urbanism, Urbanization and Acculturation in Medieval South Asia: A Case Study of Delhi City” said that urbanization is not merely an increase in the proportion of urban population, but is a continu¬ing process which encompasses all factors underlying the process of economic growth and socio cultural change. The emergence, spatial spread, growth and decline of cities and towns are very much related to the processes of urbanization and these processes are triggered due to different con¬tributing factors on different instants of time. Neha Fatima in her paper titled “The Role of an Urban Space and Citizen” said that Lahore, once a city of gardens, was always planned and lived in a way that it provided a neighborhood living, the organic growth and winding narrow streets with squares every now and then of the walled city was a true example of this
With this the paper reading sessions of 10th International THAAP Conference 2019 on “Citizens and the City” came to a close.