The team of Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) hosted an evening at their Lahore premises on February 2, screening Ammar Aziz’s documentary Hashtnagar. In the documentary, Aziz focuses on the obscure area in the middle of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The valley looks surreal as it is lingering on the legacy of Marxism-Leninism in its culture which is felt in the ambience, life-sized posters of the communist figures, folk songs and the traditional theatre. Marxism–Leninism is based on principles of class conflict, egalitarianism, rationalism as well as social progress. It is anti-bourgeois, anti-capitalist, anti-conservative, anti-fascist, anti-imperialist, anti-liberal and is opposed to bourgeois democracy.
The documentary follows a female comrade, a travelling street theatre troupe as well as some local people who still resist the pressures of feudalism and fundamentalism. This quaint area, comprising of some eight odd villages, is reminiscent of the former Soviet Union. Their folk songs praise Stalin, Engles and Lenin. This visualisation of Hashtnagar has never been done before and this young film-maker highlights the only area in Pakistan where an armed struggle of peasants and workers has taken place.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2012.