Saving Face and Deflecting Criticism

Saving Face and Deflecting Criticism

Remember the last time you decided to go out and earn international recognition for your country? The last time you walked down the Red Carpet and held an Oscar in your hand? No? Well, that’s because you probably didn’t. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, on the other hand, did. She did what could only have been a remote aspiration for a number of Pakistanis. She reinstated the belief in ourselves as a nation.



All of a sudden, everybody wanted to say we could do something – we could be something. God knows, even the Tsunami couldn’t take the limelight away from where it was due this time. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won and she shone. Like a star. Pakistani in every aspect.
But do people give it a rest? While, some of us were up all night praying and hoping against hope that this time Pakistan would win
something other than the breaking news, a lot of people left no stone unturned in thrashing the newly found and deserved achievement.



“Did you even look at her clothes?” “It would have been better had she been dressed in TRADITIONAL shalwar kameez.” “What was the point of telling the entire world about what goes on in our country?” and a number of really undesirable sentiments erupted.

What is it that these people really want? Next thing you know, they  will be asking for the Oscar trophy to be dressed in traditional
shalwar kameez. It is too petty an allegation to even warrant a justification. I’d still venture to state that Sharmeen’s entire
attire was entirely done by Pakistani designers. She dedicated her award to the women in Pakistan, fighting for change. What about
winning an Oscar and representing Pakistan internationally do people not understand? Where and when does this policing and double standards stop? The endless scrutiny and excessively critical behavior has led us nowhere. We are too busy pulling each other down, even during the times when a country is already close to being a sinking ship.

True, she made a documentary film about acid killings in Pakistan.Yes, it portrays a problem rampant in our country. Does shutting up about and ignoring the problem resolves the issue? No. Does making a film about it does? Yes. It gives the number of people who have gone through the ordeal a strange kind of hope – a feeling that they are not alone and that somebody is concerned. Moreover, whoever has done even a bit of research knows that Saving Face is more about a story of strength and surviving against odds than about Pakistan being a country that encourages acid killings. It’s about a woman being a victim and ultimately getting justice for the wrong that was done to her. It was about a doctor who was selfless enough to help her in her ordeal. It was about the oppressor being punished. How is that portraying Pakistan in a bad light?

To all the haters, one advice: Think before you speak. Ideally, just shut up.

Riffat Rashid

A freelance writer and a student at SZABIST's Media Science Program.

  • M.Saeed

    There are two blogs on the subject, already live on the site.

    There should be another title: “Slapping face and inviting suo moto from the SC”

    • Syed Aamir Ishaque

      Very true, our super efficient judiciary headed by an over-ambitious gentleman may avail this opportunity to make head-lines again

      • Ironsheik

        So what is the legal and hopefully logical objection?


    Slapping of a Pakistani man by a Pakistani woman — how un-Pakistani — inviting the wrath of all the courts the ALL MEN Supreme court — how Pakistani!

    Throwing acid on women faces — how Pakistani — repairing the scarred faces of women — how un-Pakistani.

    In ‘traditional’ Pakistan Honor killing in 2011:

    Pakistan: Family faces harrassment, assault by rabid muslims for not ……/pakistan-family-faces-harrassment-assaul…
    Oct 11, 2011 –
    The daughter’s crime? She was gang-raped. Only in the muslim world can a girl get raped, and then be accused of promiscuit
    Pakistan: Investigating Honor Killings | Pulitzer Center

    Covering Honor Killings in Pakistan … Published November 22, 2011 … In parts of Pakistan today, women are seen as property of men and are believed to …
    Pakistan honour killings reach 675 this year – Telegraph › News › World News › Asia › Pakistan
    Dec 20, 2011 – 24 Nov 2011. Scottish couple shot dead in Pakistan ‘honour killing’. 24 Nov 2011. The murders include at least 71 victims under the age of 18, …

    Stop honour killings!
    Pakistan. Honour killings and domestic disputes claimed lives of 605 women and 115 men in Sindh in 2011.

    Next year Oscar entry from Pakistan — Honor Killing — inviting suo motto from the ALL MEN Supreme court of Pakistan.

    As they say in vernacular — “zabaanay khulq ko naqqaaraye Khoda sumjho”

  • The Punisher

    Great achievement , but i would like to say that if the topic of that documentary about “women” who lost their child husbands or any other member or got herself killed in one of many DRONE attacks happened every other day in Pakistan. And also if the Topic was about “women” who lost their loved ones their bread & butter earner guardian of her kids in “MISSING PERSON CASE” , then that documentary wouldn’t even considered for nomination. I would like MS.Obaid to work on this burning issue in her upcoming project.

  • Ali

    Still Ms. Sharmeen showing the bad face of the country, if America got some problem will they show it like that ??? Nerver! is the answer…Stop portray pak in wrong manner… the reason why im saying that this documnetory released in English language and outside pakistan simply explains the idea behind that…please do some entertaining or even a national geographic type documentory we all give standing ovacion for u…
    we should solve our problems at home