WSF Karachi – events on March 30, 2006

Wednesday the sixth World Social Forum closed. Here some media voices:

Thousands of activists attended the concluding ceremony and a musical concert in which performers sang and danced almost all night to the delight of the cheering crowd. The forum, with peace, democracy and women and workers’ rights on its agenda was a huge success, said organisers. “The World Social Forum [WSF] was a success beyond our expectations,” said Karamat Ali, one of the main organisers and a senior labour leader. (Read more on TMCnet).

Before the speaking began, the first of three powerful Qawwali bands came out on stage to warm up the crowd. Qawwali is sacred music which was made famous around the world by the late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Nusrat isbeloved and revered in Pakistan. Qawwali’s spiritual power is such that it is also greatly respected and appreciated by Hindu’s and is amongst the best aspects of the irrevocably intertwined Muslim/Hindu culture which binds the subcontinent’s history. Given the large Hindu contingent which had come from India, this was a great choice of entertainment and the bands really got things going. People, men, and women, immediately got up in the crowd and danced. People even climbed right onto the stage and danced joyously, clearly intoxicated only by the music. The speeches were all intensely fiery, -given with a podium-pounding anger which is rarely witnessed in the west, and although the translating was excellent, the details of the speeches were clear enough whether in Urdu, Portuguese, Hindi or Spanish. George W. Bush is the biggest terrorist scumbag ever to defile the planet. The crowd was completely energized and engaged, shouting out comments, with waves of call/response chants rolling around the stadium. It was very nicely staged, the whole evening, -nobody droned on too tediously as can happen, and the speakers were interspersed with the Qawalli bands and a frenzied troupe of kerosene-guzzling fire-blowers. The evening ended at midnight with a finale of fireworks launched dangerously right on the roof over the stage. (Read more on countercurrent.org).

Excerpt: … during the forum, in this one sq km, one noticed all the myths of intractable hostility between India and Pakistan, between other ethnic groups and between our provinces –it was all humbug,” said Tarek Fatah, Pakistan-born host of ‘The Muslim Chronicle’, a weekly show on Canadian TV. (Read more on OneWorldSouthAsia).

Brown noted the presence of delegates from Palestine and the disputed Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir, and expressed hope that the forum would boost to resistance movements all over the world. Another human-rights activist from Nepal, Raj Kumar Trikhatri ,said the Karachi forum enabled delegates from across the world to debate a comprehensive strategy on countering globalization and increasing poverty, absence of education and health-care facilities in developing world. “We are going back to our country fully satisfied and with a confidence that the WSF will continuing mounting pressure on the imperialistic approach and policies of the developed world, which is patronizing an inequitable process of globalization,” Trikhatri said. Nirmala Despande, seasoned politician and member of India’s Rajya Sabha, or Senate, said the WSF slogan “another world is possible” brings hopes for a “bright future” of a “vibrant” developing world. “Now we should think of raising another slogan: victory to whole world for peace and justice,” Deshpande said. (Read more on Khaleej Times Online).

Excerpt: … Discussions kicked off with a plenary session in the municipal sports complex in Kashmir Road, where around 10,000 people, in tents put up for the event, came together. Buleh Shah and Shah Adula Latif, mystic poets of Punjab and Sindh, recited their poems before the crowd. The archbishop said: “It is a matter of pride for us that the event took place in our country and city. I would like to thank the National Catholic Theological Institute and Christ the King Seminary, which played an important role in the successful outcome of the forum.” He added: “There was a feeling of friendship and harmony among the participants, all united in the common purpose of bringing about a better world. The theme of the meeting was in fact ‘Another World is Possible’.” Many speakers at the meeting in Karachi stressed that “the birth of a new world is possible, different from that dominated by the neo-colonial culture of the west, which promulgates social injustice through the use of the economy and media.” Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the Commission of Human Rights of Pakistan, challenged the concept of free market that “advocated free movement of goods and capital but did not allow workers to cross borders in search of employment and prosperity”. (Read more on AsiaNews.it).

”Of course there is a personal interest to understand the relationship between the military and civil society which has been, for far too long, held hostage by the elite. I am a Pakistani and not against the state. I’m just like millions of others who are trying to find a better space for ourselves — perhaps more proactively,” Agha said. The questions that Agha raised at the WSF were explosive. ”Why is our civil society inherently elitist? Why is there a disconnect between the four federating units and why are three provinces (Sindh, North West Frontier Province and Balochistan) wary of one (the Punjab)?” Punjab province dominates the country and, most importantly, the all-powerful army. While making her criticism, Agha also suggested options in the hope that ‘’some day, somebody may get a discussion rolling on how to strengthen the political space and invest time in building the political structure.” OneWorldSouthAsia.

By Afshan Subohi – It concluded without a resolution, but the six-day World Social Forum (WSF) held in Karachi reinforced the fading belief that the world would be transformed some day into a more equitable, efficient, democratic, peaceful and humane society. It expressed the will of the people for a change. The organisational situation and ideological confusion at the gathering reflected that the journey ahead was long and arduous. However, the vigour, enthusiasm and willingness of participants for a dialogue reaffirmed that history was still in the making — and had not ended, after all. It was like a grand reunion at the KMC Sports Complex where activists seemed to be rejoicing and celebrating their coming together. Foreign delegates and hundreds of people from different parts of Pakistan were fully involved in a variety of activities at the forum. All of them felt they had gained from the interaction. They saw the event as a huge success, despite any shortcomings it may have had. “I think attendance of different actors of global and local civil society more than make up for minor organisational flaws,” Maria, a young peace activist from the United States, told Dawn. “The outcome was better than what even organisers had expected,” said another visitor. (Read more on DAWN).

Six-day WSF concludes in Karachi: – the six-day World Social Forum 2006 concluded here with the determination to continue the struggle for global peace and people’s progress. The forum was attended by nearly 40,000 delegates from 46 countries. At the concluding session, some delegates spoke about their experience of the WSF 2006. Secretary of the Pakistan chapter of the WSF Irfan Mufti said that the six-day forum had made an impact and sent its message to Washington and other parts of the world. “We will create a new world of peace and prosperity and the struggle will continue until our goal is achieved,” he said. (Read the rest on Pakistan Link).

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