Saving Pakistan’s face

Saving Pakistan’s face

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy made Oscar history late Sunday, as she became the first Pakistani to win the coveted award for her documentary film Saving Face.

Chinoy’s triumph is, rightly, being celebrated with much vigour and the country’s prime minister has announced the highest civilian award for the filmmaker.

The film, which beat competition in the form of documentaries based on Japan’s deadly tsunami and the Iraq war among others, is the story of acid-attack victims punished by men and are then given reconstructive surgery by a British surgeon. Showing the real ‘face’ of the Pakistani society, where men resort to such heinous crimes, the film touched many a heart.

Back at home, a bill was passed against such acts of violence against women, last month. While the bill has been hailed as a great achievement, it remains to be seen how effective it will be in restricting violence against women.

By going on to win an award on the biggest stage of them all, Obaid has taken a brave step towards making it known that such acts are intolerable.

Will this Oscar win and the subsequent attention on the subject, help bring an end to such barbaric acts?

While it is unfortunate that it took such a humiliating subject to bring Pakistan its first Oscar, is Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar win the biggest moment in the history of Pakistan’s arts and entertainment industry?


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207 Responses to “Saving Pakistan’s face”

  1. Asif Ali says:

    sharmeens a dual National . We must not forget that . As a proud Canadian I am proud of her . Why didn’t Dawn mention that . We can also say a Canadian got an oscar

  2. Ameer says:

    Its really a good acheivement and she should be happy for it. Indians had a similar attitude toward slumdog …reality should be depicted as it is.

  3. Sahil says:

    It is a great achievement. It does us proud. However i hope this does not open avenues of corruption. I refer to Herald’s article by Badar Alam where he exposed how Musarrat Misbah’s Depilex Smileagain Foundation skimmed millions on the pretext of setting up a hospital for acid burn victims in Multan, and only a boundary wall is there.
    I pray people support the cause but with caution.

  4. kavithait says:

    In India we have caste discrimination and atrocities against women. In Pakistan you have honor killings and persecution of minorities. In all these cases, the victims are beautiful people with no strength to defend themselves. We should not hide these atrocities under carpet but bring into light so there is more focus on saving the innocent.

  5. Akhtar says:

    Portraying negative image of Pakistan is a business these days. Talk negative, write negative or show negative, it will sell like hot cake.

    • AHA says:

      Truth always appeals to intellectual minds. It sells like hot cake with them.
      Only people standing on weak grounds want to hide truth and suppress debates

  6. Tariq, Aberdeen. says:

    The Pakistani nation has too many ills and only by talking about them openly will the nation realise what’s commonly acceptable in any normal societies and what is not. By sweeping these ills under the carpet or keeping them under the lid we witness the results for our selves today in which direction our Pakistani nation has excelled in!

    Well done Ms. Cinoy!

  7. parveez says:

    The people of Pakistan should face fact, admit what is wrong. Stand up for the poor, and their rights.
    The lady has done great, just to show the Pakistani what is happening. We should be ashamed of our nation, and how we treat many of our women, and common man on the street .
    I am ashamed of being a Pakistani, every day, when I see the daily news on Pakistan channel.

  8. Sheharyar says:

    This is a great achievement for Pakistan, but this Oscar should not shadow the true purpose of this video, instead people should learn from it to achieve a better cause. Sharmeen should work on bringing highlight more of such matters with which one can learn and make a better society.

  9. batul kazim says:

    i am shocked at all the critision…why can all of u look at any thing in a positive way..look at the good in everything…..for heaven sake be happy and proud of sharmeen…if you cant than please shut up……………………………………..and watch quietly ………u guys sound so jealouse…….

    • Shahab says:

      Yes we have a lot of social evils in our society but is it right to flash it all over the world to achieve one’s personal ambitions and expect the whole country to celebrate. Not sure what we are being expected to celebrate. The despicable act of acid throwing, the plight of the victims or how someone has exploited this plight to achieve an Oscar. we are a strange nation. We even do not have the ability to realise what is good and what is bad for us. We have also regularly celebrated the overthrow of civilian governments and hanging of democratically elected leader. The West enjoys any opportunity of showing a bad image of Pakistan and here we are all celebrating our own disgrace, once again, though in a different form.

      • Naush says:

        Hi Shahab, when people can not solve their own problems or are not willing to solve their problem, then victims have right to cry for help as loud as they can. How many people knew about it ?
        I did because i like to read, how many others did?? Not many
        Or they just ignore it.
        If airing your dirty laundry is the only way out and bring a halt to atrocities or at least save one person life, then i say do it.
        And you know western society boldly accepts their issues and air them in several movies and documentaries.
        Pakistan is celebrating the award not misery of victims, its an award to courageous journalist and film maker who was bold enough to make a documentary about it. You are right we are strange nation, who dont know how to look at positive aspects, who can not recognize the good people, who would rather hide the issue and be happy instead of solving it and God forbid if someone comea forth and bring the issue to table we suspect them of having secondary gains.

  10. J. Khan says:

    Undoubtedly, her work is admirable and all congratulations to her.

    However, I struggle with my perception of her that she is a like a child how advertises all the bad things happening in the family to the neighborhood and earns all the applause.

    All her glory is inversely proportional to the descent image of Pakistan. Instead of her, my hero’s are those Pakistani’s who are working silently in a focused manner and producing the results, without demonizing Pakistan.

  11. Jay says:

    The article mentions that the victim made up with her husband.
    Why is he not in jail? No one has said a thing about this.


  12. baqar hasnain says:

    Steven Spielberg received eleven Academy Award nominations for Color Purple (a movie that depicts poverty and racism in America) followed by four Academy Award nods for Amistad (based on a true story about slave trade in America). Slavery existed legally in the United States until the thirteenth amendment was adopted following the Civil War in 1865. Furthermore, women in many states did not have a right to vote in the U.S.A until 1920 when the nineteenth amendement was adopted (The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex). Like people, nations also go through trials and tribulations. Pakistan is not an exception. Pakistanis will conquer the social evils in their society not by concealing them but by confronting them like great nations do.

  13. Faisal M.D, Chicago USA says:

    OK, I agree a good topic to raise, but does making film on these topic will eradicate the problem. Everyone who is having there hats out to SHARMEEN – i dont think its good for PAKISTAN. Here in US there are far worst problem, *A boyfriend shot his girlfriend dead right in front of ER* and everyone is running to save her and dead in few minutes. Some areas of the city, you cant even enter because too much drive by shooting; little kids in neighborhood dying due to that. Almost everyday, there is so many gunshot and knife wounds. You can find people in Alley(back street) between dumpster dead due to heavy dosage of drugs(you find needle marks in whole body)and dead in his own faeces.
    These issue need to be dealt locally in non-government level; this problem need treatment just like you treat a flu, educating people with the teaching of ISLAM not culture.
    – -This Oscar is like winning a prize by stabbing your own mother.!~!~

    • J. Siddiqui says:

      You hit the nail on the head!

      There are two ways to get recognition. The long path of hard work and the short cut way. In the long path one works hard to act in, direct or produce a masterpiece film. In the short cut way you take your dirty laundry and wash in front of the international audience. The irony is in the apathy, as Ghalib said:

      haiN kawabib kuch aur nazar Aa’tay haiN kuch

      In this era of political correctness, she can be selected for an Oscar; but Edhi can never win a Nobel peace prize for serving humanity!

  14. B.K. Vasan says:

    Pardon me for bringing this up, but the Oscar won by Sharmeen is more a credit to Canada and US societies than Pakistan. All her achievements have been the result of free societies that let women excel, Which society do you think that is? Pakistani society?

    All her education comes from Stanford and other institutions of higher learning in the USA or Canada. So in sum, the only ‘contribution’ from Pakistan towards this Oscar has been the fact that she was born there (other than the horrendous tale of misery which is the subject of the film).

    In fact, the reason why Pakistanis should NOT be proud of such achievements is that all her achievements were possible only because the artists left Pakistan! Had she chosen to stay there, she would probably be one among the 200 million unknowns.

    Even the subject of the film, the Doctor who does the reconstructive surgery is a British doctor – again, his being born in Pakistan does not mean Pakistan can take credit for his service. It means the opposite – that Doctors in Pakistan cannot do it and need a British Doctor to show them what and how to do it.

    • vijay, chennai, India says:

      Your comments reek with jealousy.
      Where ever shermeen studied or stays does not matter. what matters is the work she has done.
      There are many Indians who stay in the west and have done marvellous work. Should we not be proud of them? Pray where did nobel laureate Dr. Hargovind khorana Chandrasekar etc studied? they studied in the west and remained in the west. Are we not proud of them? ISRO scientists who have studied here and stayed here to make rockets. Are we not prooud of them?
      Sorry Mr.Vasan, I do not agree with your points.

    • paatchu says:

      Well said dear Vasan!!..

    • Hassan says:

      Going by your logic Vikram Pandit the CEO of Citigroup should also not be considered Indian since all his education as you put it comes from Columbia University.

    • A.J.Siddiqui says:

      Thank you Mr. B.K.Vasan ! with all my sincerity.

      At the outset I should make a correction in your description. Ms Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is a proud product of Karachi Grammar School, Pakistan. One of the best in Karachi.

      I know where are you from originally. I have been in many debates , to convince those friends like you that we think in quite opposite ways and belongs to two different civilizations of conflicting ideas. We conclude different results of same experiment and we derive different inspirations from same episode of history.

      I thank you again for proving my point.

    • SJH says:

      Shermeen was born and brought up in her native land called Pakistan. She is a proud citizen of Pakistan and we are delighted at her acheivement. Eat your heart out mr Vasan!

    • Zohaib says:

      Mr. Vasan

      What bothers you most. The fact that a Pakistani won an Oscar or that Pakistanis are happy for her ?

    • Noman says:


      Sharmeen lives in Pakistan.

    • batul kazim says:

      dont say any thing …..its not nice to be sooooooooooooo negative…………….sharmeen is a star….no she is a super star………………whether she left pakistan or not……………….she still won the oscar and u did not …………… stop being sour grapes in our joy……………

    • Tanya says:

      FYI: Sharmeen lives in Pakistan and has completed her high school education from here. She returned to her country shortly after graduating in the US and there is nothing wrong with being educated abroad. Use your negative energy for other things why don’t you!

    • Lakhkar Khan says:

      That and the fact that she lives in Pakistan,
      grew up in Pakistan,
      did early education in Pakistan,
      did all the research in Pakistan,
      filmed the documentary in Pakistan
      and dedicated the award to the women of Pakistan.


      I take that you are Indian. Just remember, India has many resources and Indians have achieved plenty. Just let us Pakistanis celebrate this first ever achievement.

    • Khawer Rauf says:

      I totally agree with Vasan. The moment of pride for Pakistan will only when someone like Sharmeen achives such an honour from the roots of Pakistan. It is very easy for the government to honour her now with the highest civilian award but the real honour for Paskistan will come on the day when the environment in Pakistan start producing achievers like Sharmeen. The current plight of women in Pakistan is a world known subject and what has been done by the many governments is not a secret.

    • Combaticus says:

      You have no clue what nationality means.

      Sharmeen could have been on another planet but the sole fact that she was born in Pakistan and spent her childhood in Pakistan means that here achievements will make Pakistan proud. When I see her, I see a Pakistani who worked hard to study in one of the best colleges of the world and made documentaries on subjects that matter. You also don’t have much information on Pakistan media. There are plenty of women working in media and are doing a great job. If Pakistan is so closed, she would not have been able to make this documentary in the first place.

      It is sad to see an Indian write such bitter comments. Sania Mirza got most of her training in United States, does that mean when she wins, Indians should not be proud ?

    • Murtaza Jamal says:

      Firstlyk Sharmeen did not get ALL her education in Cananda or U.S. At least she did her high school (formative years)
      in Pakistan.

      Secondly, David Junge introduced Sharmeen as a Pakistani during the Oscars. Sharmeen talked about Pakistan and
      not for once gave the impression that she does not consider herself a Pakistani.

      So your argument is weak.

    • zigs says:

      BK, you have a point in that she is a Pakistani-American but it is not fair to claim that she only achieved this b/c she left pakistan. The fact that she has been able to go into Pakistan and use her background to delve into this horrific topic and other issues is a testament to something that doesn’t come from pakistan or the US,–it is pure passion and grit. She has a passion for the truth and that is something even those in pakistan work for every day…but they are not lauded as such. To Sharmeen’s credit,she cited those brave souls in pakistan who address these issues. She won a big award internationally but there are hundreds of men and women doing her sort of work and speaking the truth everyday in Pakistan.

    • AHA says:

      I am a Pakistani, and I am proud of the achievements of Sharmeen, a Pakistani. I am proud of the contribution of Dr. Mohammad Jawad, the London based plastic surgeon of Pakistani origin.

      But I am even more proud of Maulana Edhi, whose humanitarian organization has helped hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis, irrespective of their religion or sect or ethnicity. I am also proud of those thousands of Pakistanis who contribute in their own way by feeding the hungry, by running health care facilities for the poor and by providing shelter to the homeless.

      Pakistan has a lot to be proud of. Just because you do not hear of them does not mean that all these good people do not exist.

    • Kashif says:

      No Mr. Vasan, I don’t think you should be pardoned at all. Getting an education from abroad does not make you a foreigner. I am foreign educated and still very much a Pakistani. India has perhaps one of the largest student populations abroad; great guys I like calling friends, but does that mean they are lesser patriots? No!…or in your words, their future achievements not a credit to India? Absolutely not! Ms Sharmeen could have very well have made a documentary on a topic in Canada or the US, but she chose Pakistan. She could have accepted the award under a different country’s name…but she CHOSE Pakistan.
      You keep referring to the story and the “foreign” people in it, but what about the movie crew and the people working behind the scenes…are they any less important? I believe research is a major element of any documentary…are you sure no Pakistanis were involved in that?
      A R Rehmann won Oscars for his achievement in Slumdog Millionaire, I don’t remember anyone saying that India shouldn’t be proud because the electronic equipment he used in making that music wasn’t “made in India”? Simple fact of the matter is, you and people like you are scared of the smallest success a Pakistani may achieve which is why you are more concerned with the “200 million unknowns” in Pakistan then the ever increasing 1.17 billion unknowns next door…

    • Musawar Baig says:

      Mr Vasan…Your comments can make sense to those who see this achievement from outside with –ve angle, but imagine if Shermeen would have done something shameful to this so called modern society , then you would have said that, she is Pakistani who brought shame. At that time all that would be of Pakistan’s fault as she was born in Pakistan.
      Shermeen lives in Pakistan and she went to US like other student who go and get higher education from western world but does not mean that you can take the credit away from her being real Pakistani women. She grown up in Karachi and speaks perfect urdu with no western accent, which means she is a normal Pakistani women who just used her knowledge gained in west for this achievement.
      Lets be fair to her and relation to Pakistan, and try to see the brighter side of the picture. Tell me would you have thought and expressed in a similar way if someone from your country would have done this???

      • vinny says:

        Why so much reaction to Vasan? Why is getting a certificate from India or Indians important to you guys? When will you learn to ignore and more on?

  15. Naveed Siraj says:

    Is it me or are all the negative comments from ex-pat Pakistanis who are embarrased about the negative portrayal. For the naysayers who are not particularly happy with Sharmeen getting the award, you will only relate to the pain of acid-attack when a member of your family is a victim. I would not even wish this for my worst enemy but the cowardice and ignorance of some of the negative comments is mind boggling.

  16. Sheikh Muhammad says:

    Okay Ms Chinoy we (all Pakistani) are waiting from your side to make a documentary for Dr. Afiya as well with same passion. Hopefully you as a woman may feel the pain of these women (Dr. Afiya, her daughter, sisters and mother). We will pray for your next victory.


  17. M A Hussain says:

    Firstly she is not the first Pakistani to win an oscar.

    Secondly, her team did not win the award for their good work but for the ‘publicity’ of their good work. There are plenty of people in Pakistan serving humanity at a much wider scale but are honest enough not to publicize or show-off. This has set a wrong example and would set of an unhealthy chain of events. As a nation we even don’t know when and what to cheer about.

    • Yaser says:

      Mr. Hussain, with all due respect, let us not resort to our favorite national pastime i.e. finding fault in any and everything that has ever come out of our country but to acknowledge and celebrate the achievement of the lady however insignificant and meaningless it might be to some of us. Nobody is denying that there are others who have probably done a lot more than what Ms. Chinoy has achieved…lets give credit where its due…even if it was just the “publicity” bit that was done well as you said.



      • M A Hussain says:

        I totally agree with you and no wonder this is an achievement. I did not mean to belittle any success when there are so few of these to celebrate. But our jubilation is devoid of any credit being given to the first Pakistani to hold the Oscar Mir Zafar Ali from Karachi. And using phrases like ‘First Pakistani to win” the Oscar and derogatory innuendos like ‘Showing Real Face of Pakistani Society’, the author has not done justice in the article. I hope the author takes notice and issue a disclaimer.

  18. Qurat-al- AIN says:

    Thank you sister shermeen for your courage. May God Almighty grant you his grace, wisdom a very long and healty life. Let these filthy people stay in Afghanistan. Pray for Afghani women and young girls.

  19. rashidzaidi CA.USA says:

    You negative writer are just envious of what Sharmeen has been able achieve. Get real the world is whizzing past you and your tribal values, they have no place in modrenity. Islam teaches us to be modren yet the myopic views of the Muala keep us backward. Disfiguring innocent women by beating them up or throwing acid is a dastardly act.
    The people should be punished for such cowardly pursuits.When you are weak within, you take it out on the weak.

  20. FMK says:

    Heartiest congratulations to Sharmeen winning the Oscar and job well done. This is a definite win especially for the women of Pakistan. The subject matter that Sharmeen has covered in the documentary is of complete shame for Pakistan. I want to know that what is Pakistan Government and the people of Pakistan going to do about this issue and other senseless acts of violence that happen day-to-day in Pakistan. I also want to know, which Pakistani cable or non-cable channel is going to broadcast this documentary so that people of Pakistan can view the work of pride and act of shame and disgust.

  21. Sarah says:

    An outstanding feat for Sharmeen-Daniel duo. Winning an Oscar is a prestigious thing for any filmmaker. The subject of the movie is not just women who are victims of acid-throwing but also a story of hope insofar as it shows a Pakistani doctor using his skills and knowledge to restore some hope, light and dignity back to these women. It is a tough subject and yes it is a horrible crime which is prevalent in Pakistan (and some other countries too btw). Instead of crying about how our ‘image’ has been spoilt internationally – please go watch the documentary first – see the positive message of the fight against this horrific crime. I cannot believe that even when a Pakistani shines on the global stage and wins an award, and dedicates it to his/her people back home – there are morons who can only complain and whine about our ‘image’. I dont know whether to laugh or cry at this travesty.

  22. Syed Rizvi says:

    At the end of the day i would like to remind everyone who are negative about winning Oscar and putting your country’s better image round the globe. I live here in Australia and first time in many years (recalling my memory)i have come across a very positive and image building headline across news channels and newspapers for Pakistan. It was heartening and something to be proud of. Guys i ask this question to everyone how many moments in the history of Pakistan are one’s we are proud to be part of? This one definitely stands out. This shows our society resolve that we can be master of our own society with out any foreign help.

  23. Ali Niazi says:

    Very interesting comments, some supportive and other against the award. I haven’t seen the documentary yet but in my humble opinion, Sharmeen did a great job. She brought up a very important, disgraceful and yet a very real issue. Yes it brings bad image to Pakistan, but this is the truth and we need to address it. It also brings to attention that a Pakistani surgeon regularly travel to Pakistan and treat these women. I think many doctors and surgeons will probably take notice of this act and hopefully will donate their time towards this or some other similar worthy cause.

    I live overseas as well and I do hope that in this documentary Sharmeen has clarified that most Pakistani men are decent people and not criminals. A documentary can have a harmful impact towards the society as a whole and can most definitely create stereo types.

    Also many friends from India have stressed that she is a Hindu woman. Well she is a Muslim, however it doesn’t matter as she is a Pakistani. And last but not least she is not the first Pakistani to win Oscar, she is the second. Fair to say that she is the first Pakistani woman to win an Oscar.

  24. sarmad says:

    Oscar award like others some time given on social and political reasoning to highlight and promote a certain cause. I guess something similar working here. First the documentary was on a subject which is not only sensitive but horrible. Then it was from a Muslim country which is very much in the news for ongoing violence in the name of religion. Lastly, it was work of a talented and beautiful young Muslim woman from a country where women are oppressed discriminated and do not believe to contribute anything at such level. No doubt Sharmeen has done a tremendous job along with her director. By awarding her an academy award, AMPAS (the ward committee) has highlighted a cruel act and encouraged her for promoting a noble cause. It will serve in a long way to improve the plight of women. I can see the light at end of the tunnel. Parliament has already passed the necessary laws. Awareness on abuses, discriminations and violence against women is on the rise. I believe our mind sets have already started changing. We are in the right direction.
    I hope I did not undermine her work by saying this.

  25. kiran alvi says:

    make more docs on such subjects and keep on winning Oscars at the cost of defaming Pakistan.

    • Iqbal says:

      You must be frankly quite messed up to think that Pakistan has an actual room for “improvement” when it comes to defamation. If anything, this documentary would have actually improved the image of our country where rehabilitation is actually done.

      So kindly walk away with your comments. They are not welcome here. Lets see you win an Oscar and then we can talk about criticizing Ms. Chinoy. on Facebook on Facebook