The Justice In Pakistan Project: An Introduction

I am embarking on a new photography project tentatively titled ‘Justice in Pakistan’. It is an individual’s exploration of questions and ideas of justice through the stories and lives of some 300 individual Pakistani’s belonging to some of the most marginalized, dispossessed and deprived communities in the country. Based on portraiture – visual and text, it will explore through conversations and dialogue, the inequities, violence, and human suffering that either remains largely unacknowledged by the formal judicial system, or is caused by its current form and function. The work will also focus on issues of structural injustice – those that are caused not by acts overtly but by specific social, economic and political arrangements that lead to human misery and suffering.

This work is an exploration, and an individual’s attempt to discuss and understand ideas of justice and rights as understood and demanded by some of the most marginalized and dispossessed members of Pakistani society. It places at its center the voices of those who I believe are furthest from the concerns of the formal legal system, and yet involved in some of the most determined struggles to gain its attentions and its protections.

Through a patient immersion into the lives and lived realities of Pakistanis, I am trying to explore and understand what really happens in the lives of the weak, the poor and the marginalized. Through their experiences and lives I am trying to highlight the real factors – social, economic and political, that create their dispossession, poverty, repression and marginalization. The work take specific issues, or situations of injustice, for example, victims of torture, bonded labor, displaced fishing communities, landless peasants etc. and then dwells deeper into the narratives of those suffering from theses injustice, using these narratives to understand the broader socio-economic factors that perpetuate and sustain the situation.

These issues, and the individual narratives, provide a starting point for a broader discussion of the nature of the injustice, the current state of the law and legal rights that apply, the short comings of the existing system and / or the legal recourse available. It examines whether alternative legal institutions – customary laws, or Sharia have offered effective possibilities and whether insights can be gained from these. It also explores the actions of activists and social workers struggling to ameliorate and rectify the injustice, using their experiences and insights to construct a deeper understanding of the changes required.

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