Sculptors highlight misery of the polio-affected.

IN a place like Balochistan, a passion becomes the personification of a person in the face of non-existent job opportunities, no matter how long one tries to run away from it.

At the end of the day, it becomes an integral part of an individual's life.

Mir Ali Sher, who hails from Quetta, is a good example. He does not remember what inspired him to take up sculpture. 'There was an artist in me from day one,' he tells Dawn as to how he became an artist.

'Since my childhood, I had an unusual interest in art. That's why I am an artist today.'

Sher Ali participated in a two-day sculpture competition at the Balochistan University of InforAmation Technology, EngiAneering and ManageAment Sciences two days ahead of the World Polio Day (Oct 24).

His group's entry for the competition clinched the first prize.

'It is a team work. My team wanted to arouse empathy for people disabled by polio so that they can contribute their bit to society.'

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where the poliovirus has not been wiped out. Twenty cases have been reporAted from across the country this year. 'We chose simple ideas to stress the importance of vaccinating children against polio,' he said.

Polio cases are being reported from Balochistan off and on. There are many people in the province who refuse to get their children vaccinated.

Against this backdrop, the provincial government's polio emergency operation cell (EOC) orgaAnised a sculpture contest. The cell financed their works as well.

'We got ideas from our seniors at the varsity department,' Mohammad Ijaz, a member of Mir Ali Sher's team, told Dawn.

'We tried to emphasise that a disabled person is just like any other person. So we made two sculptures. One of them showed a disabled man playing football while the other showed a man's leg tied to a rope.'

Like his class fellow Ali Sher, he laments that material used for making sculptures have become expensive and there is hardly any help from the government for reputed artists, let alone students like himself.

'Most of us are self-made,' he says with pride, requesting the government to pay heed to artists' grievances.

'The government should pay special attention to young artists because many quit the profession due to modest means.'

Ishaque Lehri, a Quetta-based professional sculptor, has been working for Pakistan Television as a designer.

Like most other artists, he has a story of hardship faced for the sake of his passion.

He created a massive...

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