A never-seen-before feature film about a Pakistani man restoring his faith in democracy by meeting the self-exiled military dictator
By Mohsin Abbas / The Santiago Times Publisher
Award-winning director and filmmaker Mohammad Ali Naqvi, better known as Mo Naqvi, travels to Dubai, Pakistan, and the United States interviewing former military dictator, General (r) Pervez Musharraf, who became the head of the Pakistani government following a bloodless coup in 1999, and few other popular faces in Pakistani politics for his latest feature length film, Insha’Allah Democracy.
In 2010, the filmmaker who made the films Shame, Among the Believers, and Pakistan’s Hidden Shame began shooting footage for what would become this extraordinary political satire, recently screened in the U.S.
Insha’Allah Democracy gives an inside picture of Musharraf’s days in self-exile and his unexpected political comeback, following his escape from the country after months of judicial pounding over a number of serious cases relating to his reign.
Mo’s latest creation takes us back to ‘90s when religious minorities were being persecuted in Pakistan and politicians stood for nothing but re-election.
In June 2001 the former army chief became the tenth President of Pakistan. The attack on the World Trade Center took place a few months after Musharraf’s presidency began, and the War on Terror was the major cloud that hung over his head throughout his regime. In 2008 he resigned from office in the face of impeachment proceedings being taken against him by the Pakistani parliament.
Although Insha’Allah Democracy is mostly concerned with the role of Gen. Musharraf in saving the South Asian country – which had been the nucleus of his military regime for over a decade (1999-2008) – from imploding, this documentary is also about the filmmaker himself who votes for the first time during Pakistan’s 2013 general elections – which Nawaz Sharif won with majority.
The film tagline aptly says, “Who would you vote for? The crook, the Taliban sympathizer, or the former dictator?’
Featuring Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, the ideological father of Taliban, and Imran Khan, chief of the country’s hottest political party – the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) – this film provides the director’s personal reflections on democracy in a climate of terror, from a very Pakistani perspective.
Putting in years of hard work, the Emmy-nominated filmmaker has once again proven his mettle in exposing religious extremism and socio-economic exploitation of Pakistanis who are still deeply divided whether democracy can actually work in that part of the world. For many in Pakistan, dictatorship outperforms democracy in growth and economic development as it last happened nearly 18 years ago with the start of Musharraf’s regime.
Employing an amazing filmmaking technique, Mo Naqvi provides us a warts and all portrait of power politics in the country before and after the 9/11: Musharraf first becoming a key player in the American-led war on terror by directing polices against terrorism, and then losing it all again amid a political upheaval.
Mo’s 64th Street Media collaborated with New York-based Impact Partners that has been behind some of the biggest documentary films in recent years to give us Insha’Allah Democracy, which also gives us a rare glimpse of how Pakistani rulers of all hues seek Washington’s support to gain power.
Insha’Allah Democracy is Naqvi’s sixth film just had its world premiere at Sheffield Documentary Film Festival and its North American premiere at Doc NYC.
This fascinating film fits nicely into the catalog of Mo’s masterpieces showing he has much more to offer to the world of cinema. But more importantly, it is a tale of unshakable belief in peace and progress, and is very relevant to the prevailing political situation in Pakistan where Gen. Musharraf’s arch-rival Nawaz Sharif has been forced out over corruption allegations by country’s top court, a year short of completing his third tenure as Prime Minister, while the former military dictator is reconstructing his political trajectory.
More importantly, this short film also provides an opportunity to the people in Latin America – where a number of military dictators have ruled for decades – to understand how dictatorship works in a different part of the world.
Mohammed Ali Naqvi is an internationally celebrated filmmaker whose work has won over 25 prestigious awards and honors, and whose films have been showcased in film festivals including Toronto, Tribeca, Berlin, IDFA, Full Frame and AFI and venues including the Museum of Modern Art and the United Nations in New York. His masterpieces include Terror’s Children, Pakistan’s Hidden Shame, Big River, Among the Believers, and The General Goes Home.