With good news relating to Pakistan scarce to come by, the nation basked in the spotlight that fell on documentary film maker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who on Monday morning became the country's first Oscar awardee.
Though there was none of the boisterous celebration accompanying a cricket match win, Ms. Chinoy was the toast of the day and she held the headlines even through a bomb blast left seven dead even as a chief minister narrowly escaped the attack.
As she walked up the red carpet to collect her award for Saving Face — a documentary on acid victims — in a designer outfit deliberately selected to showcase Pakistan's fashion industry, Ms. Chinoy began trending on social networking websites. And, the ‘ghairat brigade' (honour brigade) — who would be inclined to dismiss the film as an attempt to show Pakistan in poor light — appeared to have been silenced by the moment.
“This is as good as winning the World Cup 20 years ago!” said one twitterati even as people began sharing the video clip of her short acceptance speech. It was emailed across the country, posted on websites, tweeted and repeatedly aired on television.
Her acceptance speech, like her work, was sans frills. There was none of the usual thanking the whole world and its uncle. Instead, she dedicated it “to all the heroes working on the ground in Pakistan, including Dr. Mohammad Jawad who is here with us today. The plastic surgeon working on rehabilitating all these women. Ruksana and Zakia who are our main subjects of the film, whose resilience and bravery in the face of such adversity is admirable. And to all the women of Pakistan who are working for change, don't give up on your dreams. This is for you.”
Congratulations began to pour in; prominent being the United States diplomatic mission in Pakistan. Not just its embassy in Islamabad but also consulates in Lahore and Karachi were posting congratulatory messages. In fact, the mission has been vocally expressing support for her on social networking sites from last evening as the run-up to the awards began.
From the President downwards, Ms. Chinoy's achievement was lauded and the government announced the decision to confer a high civil award on her, but did not specify which one. Copywriters had a busy day, but first off the mark seemed to be the predominantly chicken-serving restaurant chain “Nando's,” which put out an advertisement saying “From one chick to another: Thanks for Saving our Face.”
As for Ms. Chinoy, she remained tuned to her nation via Twitter — beginning the “morning of Oscar day” by saying “Im proud to represent Pakistan on such a global stage — there r many stories yet 2 be told win or lose I will be bk.” And, after the usual round of thanks and the celebrations, she signed out in the evening (local time) with a “Good night Pakistan. Everyone after the Oscars came & said good things about my country 2 me! Jinnah would have been proud!”