World Comics Network - Pakistan a group who love peace and comics. Yes Comics! You must be thinking what is the connection between peace and comics? The bond between two is the grassroots approach introduced by World Comics to Pakistan. A numbers of activists, students, teachers and artists have already tried this tool called Grassroots Comics in Pakistan and journey is on...

Thursday, July 24, 2014


This publication is one of the most unique collection of the experiences earned by Nida Shams –Founder of World Comics Network-Pakistan, during several workshops conducted by her in the country .This anthology is a result of a month long workshop conducted in Karachi Women’s Jail encompassing   their unique individual experiences in jail some humorous, some gloomy .Given comics in this anthology speak of the lives of women prisoners in Karachi women jail in their own language. However it was not as simple to take pen and paper in jail and motivate inmates to share their painful stories and then ask them to make comics on the same. These women were mothers, daughters and sisters but not a free citizen and lodged here for several months and even years.  We had participants of every age and even children of these inmates too took part in it.
While the work on this book was going on few of them were released from the jail but not everyone was so lucky. This workshop helped them to tell their part of the story in the form of these comics. However we are not reproducing them as an authentic statement to be used for their trial but these are simple individual voices and must be read only in that light.
There lives a few stories behind the bar- which are documented in comics form here to let the outside world understand the plight of these women. This 36- page black and white comics anthology in Urdu (having English translation) has been authored by Nida Shams.
These black and white lines are powerful examples of self-expression and in recent years grassroots comics has been successful in reaching to the people who need it the most.
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World Comics Network through Grassroots comics has unleashed two most important and integral facets of human life –media and religion. This workshop was organized in Karachi  by World Comics Network-Pakistan, in collaboration with Human Rights Commission of Pakistan(HRCP). Conducted by trainer Azmeena Alidina this workshop opened doors to a new medium, for acknowledging people’s opinion, not only for the NGO workers who participated but also for participants who were professional media people.
It’s human tendency to associate one’s identity with one’s religion. However the human life in today’s arena is surrounded to and fro by media. It wouldn’t be wrong if we say that media has become  part and parcel of human life.  Thus it also shapes our perceptions and presumptions about religion, not only just ours but also that of others. All these participants belonging to different religion and different age group, interestingly ranging from 8 to 60 actively engaged themselves with this topic. This became more evident when they reflected their views distinctly on the topic during the orientation by a very senior journalist of Pakistan, Ghazi Salahuddin.
All the participants had different opinion. Some supported media giving examples of how it has been of use to them. The others presented a complete contradictory view tagging media as being biased and posing news without actually getting into the skin of reality. Most of the time people are too busy to explore the different sides of any incident and whatever media posits becomes reality for them. Thus media’s negligence in exploring the true nature of reality tends to hamper the perception of people especially in issues as sensitive as religion. Through different comics came up these perceptions.
All the participants were so excited that they decided upon to use the medium more and more in their organizations work. Sir John, one of the participants, cherished this art so much that even after having a fractured hand he drew his comics from one hand and actively participated in each session. All participants, was it the 8 year old child or the 60 year old aged participant drew their ideas through this simple and interesting art of comics making and came over their inhibition of both drawing and expressing their ideas freely .
This workshop was conducted in a political volatile situation in Pakistan. However the efforts of our comics trainer Azmeena and the HRCP team bore fruit in the end when all the comics came out successfully.  HRCP is also planning to form an anthology of these comics very soon.