Mobeen Ansari is an award-winning photojournalist based in Islamabad where he devotes his time to telling stories that bring the culture, people and history of Pakistan to life. Ansari has published two photography books: Dharkan: The Heartbeat of the Nation, in which he features the portraits of iconic individuals in Pakistan and shares their stories, and White in the Flag, which focuses on the cultures and lifestyles of Pakistan’s ethnic minorities.
Abdul Sattar Edhi was the late humanitarian and founder of Edhi foundation, one of the largest ambulance networks in the world. Known to Pakistanis as the ‘Angel of Mercy’, he was one of Pakistan’s most extraordinary personalities for the selfless and society serving work that he did. Even in death, he kept giving.
Sheema Kermani is a classical dancer and activist, and is one of the reasons why dance grew into an artistic pursuit in Pakistan. She held public performances in the 1980s when conservatism ruled, only coming out stronger. She also leads the women’s activist group Tehrik-e-Niswan, which highlights social issues through their performances. In 2017, there was a bomb attack in Sehwan Sharif, Sindh during a Dhamaal (devotional dance) with 200 casualties. This did not deter the devotees from this ancient ritual. In March 2018, she was among the leaders of the historic Aurat March (Women’s March).
Bibi Kai Kalash is one of the most famous individuals from the indigenous Kalash community. The Kalash community is a Dardic Indo-Aryan indigenous community living in the Chitral District of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. Bibi’s pride and self-sufficiency are typically Kalash traits; traits that have helped this tribe defend their traditions for generations.
Iman Ali is an actress and model, well known in Pakistan and abroad. It is not just her versatility that is inspirational, but the fact that she is a great example of turning weakness into strength. She suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and continues to act and model whenever she can and shows no sign of giving up. She uses her platform and standing to create awareness about this disease.
Justice Nasira Iqbal shattered the glass ceiling by being one of the first female judges in Pakistan, and an active championer of women’s rights. She has never been afraid to speak out about injustices or issues that hold the country back from developing.
Dr. Ajaz Anwar was an iconic painter. His work has immortalized the iconography of Lahore’s old streets. For his whole life, he painted those streets and has been involved as an activist to preserve heritage buildings. He was at the forefront of a protest to stop a railway construction that threatened to raze down some historically rich heritage sites.
Dr. Adib Rizvi is a doctor and a philanthropist. His story is nothing short of inspiring. He started offering treatment at Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplant in the early 1970s. What was once a four-bed hospital, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplant has now grown into one of the largest hospitals providing kidney treatments free of charge. Dr. Adib also treated Abdul Sattar Edhi, mentioned above, in his final years. This humanitarian connection between the two men is truly special.
Fire breather Khaitan Ram is one of the fire breathers who is part of the Hindu Bheel community residing in South Punjab. The community has a performance troupe which she travels with. In this photo, she is doing a fire breathing performance in Cholistan desert, a large desert in the southern part of Punjab, where the community hails from.
For more like this, check out Mobeen Ansari’s deep dive into the Historical Sights in Pakistan.