Before the weekend, I noticed people putting up signs and banners all across the federal government area and throughout Islamabad as well as outside the city limits into Rawalpindi as well. I am assuming these signs are all over Pakistan during this time too, given that it is something observed throughout Pakistan.
They have made October 27th, “Black Day,” in Pakistan. Black Day is a day in which they commemorate the Kashmir Crisis, which is often a forgotten crisis. I believe it is a day to support the Kashmiris fighting for independence in IOK (Indian Occupied Kashmir), and also to acknowledge their struggle and loss of lives in the process.
It has been quite the spectacle to see all these signs lined up across the fences guarding government buildings like the Supreme Court, and the Prime Minister’s office and then all around the streets of Islamabad.
I had the opportunity to go to Rawalpindi (Pindi for short) too, and on “Black Day” to attend a Nikkah (wedding ceremony) and I got to see some of the city as well. As a side note, the first set of camels I saw in Pakistan this trip was in Pindi. I haven’t seen any in Islamabad! It was also an interesting experience immersing with a Pashtun family. I was the only “outsider” there, during the Nikkah ceremony. And they just met me as well, through my father, whom they never met either. Now that was true hospitality, to see me as “theirs” when they never even met me before. I had a chance to speak to them about my interest in learning more about the Pashtun culture, and about how the world misunderstands and misrepresents the Pashtun people. …More on this later…
Anyways, I have been taking a lot of photos of signs everywhere because it is quite overwhelming how many signs are around the city and in front of government buildings even. It has been a few days now, and the signs and banners are still up. It must be a massive campaign. I remember writing a paper about the Kashmir crisis, one that I called “Mission Kashmir” back in college. I didn’t even know about the Bollywood hit at that time. And I wrote several papers in other professional capacities later too. It is an issue close to my heart, so it was fascinating to see all of this in the surroundings in Islamabad the past few days, commemorating “Black Day”, standing in solidarity with the Kashmiris. It still remains a highly contested issue between Pakistan and India, even though it hasn’t been in the mainstream conversations lately.
In the interest of time, I have only shared a few photos, but hope to post more photos in the future after my fieldwork. I have already taken a lot of amazing photos, and look forward to returning to the ones I have taken during my exploratory fieldwork as well. I believe photos are helpful for fieldwork, as a way to remind yourself about the context of your immersion, and perhaps enlightening your writing as well. I will certainly make albums, but the photos are no doubt helpful in the fieldwork assessment and dissertation writing process.