Next: The Two Faces of Dr. Nasim Ashraf's Human Development
brochure for Musharraf's dinner-drama show in New York on Sept
Grand Music Night Hit by Pakistan High Court Restraining Order
MT Butt & Nishat Zafar
YORK, Sept 15: General Musharraf’s $1,000 per person grand
gala night of music and drama in New York on Sept 21 has been
hit by accusations of fraud against the organizers in the Sindh
High Court in Karachi.
The Court has issued an injunction restraining the organizers
from presenting their main musical show Anarkali, a romantic
tale of passion and love during the Moghul Empire. But it appears
the show will go on with Musharraf and his paying guests enjoying
it, in contempt of the Pakistani court.
has been the center piece of the musical night in which the organizers,
Pakistan Human Development Fund (PHDF), have asked Pakistanis
in America to spend $1,000 dollars each to get a picture with
Pakistan’s military dictator.
Anarkali is a Pakistani production but now the organizers
have brought the show to US without even asking the owners and
are arranging it with Indian actors and cast. The show will be
the highlight of Musharraf’s annual mandatory ‘yatra’
of to New York, now a week away.
The controversy has already turned the General’s main community
dinner and social evening with the Pakistani community into a
The Court has issued the Injunction restraining the Pakistan Human
Development Fund of Dr Nasim Ashraf, its Chairman and an active
member of the Pakistani-American community, who is organizing
the main dinner and a side cultural show. Click
for copy of Court order Page1 | Page2
But the SHC order is not against the dinner. It is against presenting
the drama Anarkali, as the young original producers and
copyright owners of the play have sued Dr Nasim Ashraf’s
PHDF claiming their show had been stolen by PHDF.
SHC ordered both parties on August 24 to maintain status quo,
which means under the law the drama cannot be staged.
The case against Dr Ashraf’s PHDF is just the tip of the
iceberg. His organization has been targeted for criticism because
General Musharraf has favored the PHDF with a generous Rs 2 billion
grant with no government accounting or controls. This has led
to a lot of heart burning and cries of favoritism but PHDF has
stood its ground because it was supported by the Army.
this time a young but determined Karachi couple, Shaiyanne and
Sohail Malik, have taken on this huge behemoth and dragged it
to court, so far successfully. The PHDF hired a heavyweight attorney,
Liaqat Merchant, to intimidate the couple but they have refused
of Pavilion Interactions, the company with legal rights to their
drama ‘Anarkali’, told the South Asia Tribune,
officials of Dr Ashraf’s PHDF had started threatening them
in several ways claiming they were powerful people and they owned
the rights of Anarkali.
Sohail Ahmed Malik and Shaiyanne Sohail Malik, authors, actors,
directors and producers of various plays are the owners of copyright
in our musical play entitled “Anarkali Through The Eyes
Of Noor Jahan (The Legend Of The Entombed Flower)”,
the couple said in a letter to the UNDP, which has also been listed
as a sponsor of the Anarkali show in Los Angeles and
New York. Click for text of the Letter
musical play Anarkali was first performed by us along
with our team in Lahore, Pakistan on October 23, 2003 on the occasion
of a fund raising event for poverty alleviation hosted by Pakistan
Human Development Fund and certain amounts for performance of
play Anarkali were also paid to us.
we also performed our play during the Asia Pacific First Ladies
Conference gala night in the Presidency at Islamabad, Pakistan,”
Shaiyanne and Sohail Malik said.
had produced this play in October 2003 and presented it in the
President’s House where Musharraf and all others applauded
it. We worked for months on its script and idea and groomed and
trained its actors and artists. But without asking or involving
us, PHDF announced they would screen the play during Musharraf’s
New York visit on September 21 and we were shocked,” Shaiyanne
also revealed something more devastating about Dr Ashraf’s
PHDF. “Early in 2003 Dr Ashraf asked me to arrange some
‘mujras’ for Pakistani-American doctors who were to
visit Lahore. I refused but offered to arrange a proper classical
drama on Anarkali, the character of famous Moghul romantic
story. That is how we started working on the play and got it properly
copyrighted in our name in all formats, audio, video and stage.”
Shaiyanne said PHDF had also involved the Pakistan Foreign Ministry
to get US visas for 14 artists who would present the play Anarkali
in US. "None
of these 14 people had ever worked in our play," Shaiyanne
told the South Asia Tribune, hinting that some kind of
a US visa racket may also be going on, on the sidelines of the
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan,
had sent us a letter on June 2, 2004, in which they had listed
14 persons who had applied for visas, claiming that they had performed
the Play Anarkali at the Presidency and we had been asked
to confirm this fact. We had categorically replied that this was
a fraudulent claim and that none of these persons or the PHD Fund
was in any way involved in our production of the Play Anarkali
in the Presidency and it may be further noted that five names
from those listed are not included in the list of cast members
submitted to the Court,” the letter by Shaiyanne and Malik
to the UNDP states.
Whatever may be the status of these visa seekers, it is already
certain that the big cultural gala in Los Angeles and New York
has been tainted by these allegations of fraud and wrong doing
and General Musharraf is likely to promote it.