Yet Another Pakistani Artist Left At The Mercy of God

Yet Another Pakistani Artist Left At The Mercy of God
In 2005, Safdar Ali Qureshi graduated from National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore with a bright future ahead as a qualified painter specialising in miniature painting.

Qureshi went on to exhibit his work nationally and internationally. He was part of residencies in Qatar, workshops in Bangladesh and in 2015, his work was exhibited at the India Art Fair. Based in Jamshoro, Sindh he also used to teach at what was once the Centre of Excellence in Art and Design (it is now the Shaheed Allah Baksh Soomro University).

Today he sits huddled with his wife and nine month old in his home filled with flood water. His paintings, worth lakhs of rupees, that were part of a collection he was due to exhibit lie ruined. All he has left is a few paintings from an older collection.

“My painting is my only source of earning. All of Sindh has been destroyed. It has been raining non-stop since yesterday and my roof is completely destroyed, water is leaking from it, everything in my home is covered with plastic but even then all my possessions, books, furniture and paintings have been destroyed,” said Qureshi. He isn't sure how or when he can start work again and has very little money or family support.

Jamshoro is one half of what are known as the twin cities – Hyderabad being the other city. While Hyderabad is seen as the major city, Jamshoro is a mountainous region and is home to four universities.

“We would go to Hyderabad to get all our necessities but now it is so difficult to access the city due to the floodwater,” said Qureshi.

Like many Qureshi also pinpoints badly planned infrastructure for the build up of water as natural drainage systems have been blocked by houses and buildings without any proper mechanisms in place to help remove excess water. The monsoon comes every year but with climate change, population growth and houses mushrooming without any proper planning, this year's rains have brought about what is best described as a humanitarian disaster.

“The naalas have been blocked as people have built homes on them and settled around them. If the government tries to remove the people, then they complain. But the state has done nothing to fix this problem of lack of drainage either. The water needs to be directed to the river but it is just standing. I have never seen anything like this before,” said Qureshi.

For Qureshi, life right now is day to day survival. The future remains uncertain as his work lies destroyed and he can only sit and watch the water as it flows outside his home and drips into his through his roof.

At this point his only hope is that the rain stops and he can rebuild his life. But how he will do that remains to be seen.