Since its inception in 1947, Pakistan has struggled with democracy due to a history of military dictatorships and multiple waves of religious extremism. Such an atmosphere has reduced spaces for marginalised communities, particularly women and minority groups. As an activist and an artist, the biggest challenge in such an environment is to counter the extremist mind-set and intolerance that has become deeply rooted within Pakistan’s population.
Maati TV is a web based interactive video site aimed at creating an alternative narrative of Pakistan that promotes peace, tolerance, and democracy. Maati TV is an initiative of Interactive Resource Centre, an info media organization based in Lahore, Pakistan. Maati TV broadcasts narratives around gender equality and cultural heritage, centring peace, through digital stories, mini web series, citizen journalism, Vlogs and Articles. This platform works on multiple levels. Firstly, it aims at centring narratives that might be ignored by the mainstream media. Secondly, it exposes people to stories that encourage and inspire them towards a peaceful Pakistan where diversity is celebrated. Finally, it is a platform for critical discourse. Individuals get to advocate for issues that directly impact them by sending in their stories. It is a free, creative, and safe space for the people of Pakistan where they can change the dominant story of their country and its people, by actively contributing to a more alternative telling. According to Maati TV, it is especially challenging to develop a new narrative that includes greater diversity and inclusion while encouraging the community to not only accept this new narrative but also help to develop it. Maati TV considers its main purpose to help educate the people of Pakistan that their country is more culturally diverse and religiously tolerant than they realize by placing these examples in front of them in the form of a story.
Risham Waseem (1991) is a documentary filmmaker and the creative director of Maati TV. Risham is also the director of Vasakh Film Festival, an international documentary film festival aimed at creating awareness on Human rights issues and initiating critical discourse among Pakistani youth. She also has a background in interactive/forum theatre. She has performed in various theatre plays all over Pakistan, on the themes of democracy, gender-based violence and countering violent extremism. Her biggest goal is to broaden the narrative of her country by making it more inclusive and tolerant through the art of storytelling.