As protests continue unabated against power outages throughout Punjab, Rahim Yar Khan’s painters have found opportunity to turn the situation to their advantage.
With a persistent demand of malevolent sketches depicting Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Multan Electric Supply Corporation (MEPCO) and the country’s feeble economy, business for the painters could not have been better.
According to native painters, customers demand sketches which convey a real sense of misery to the authorities.
“People harbour more respect for us since we present them with new ideas and present an avenue where their frustrations can be vented,” said one of the painters, while talking to The Express Tribune.
“People tell us that they are experiencing 20-22 hours of power outage which has crushed them economically. In such a situation, people have to let their sentiments be known to those responsible for this menace,” reflected painter Hussain Ahmed.
When asked how much they charge for these paintings, Ahmed said it all depends on the quality of the sketches being demanded.
However, payoffs are high.
On average, anything from Rs2,000-8,000 can be made from a single protest.
“People also take our paintings on a rental basis, and return these to us when demonstrations have concluded,” said another painter.
Another painter, Shayan Hameed, revealed that members of the business community in Rahim Yar Khan came up with the idea of using depictions of electrical gadgets in paintings.
“Businessmen pay us handsomely for the paintings,” he asserted. “They ask us to paint images from the Stone Age, whereby torches take the place of electrical appliances,” he said.
On the other hand, labour unions stick to their perennial images of bread, emaciated people and scenes depicting abject poverty.
“Colour combinations of the paintings and banners are dependant upon the time in which the protests are being organised so that their visibility is not hampered,” reminded Hameed.
While talking to The Express Tribune, political worker Kiran Siddiq Chaudhry said that the youth are mostly attracted to hire the services of the painters so that they can effectively register their grievances.
“The youth is desperate and they seek an end to this menace once and for all,” said Chaudhry. According to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Maiza Hameed Gujjar, the people need to let out their frustrations against the issue of unrelenting power shortfall in their localities.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.