Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mumtaz Mustafa

Mumtaz Mustafa is a young woman going places in a no uncertain way. At a time when Pakistan is struggling to recover a semblance of a national identity that is not tainted by its association with violent and aggressive factions, it is rare to read a news story in the western media that presents the country in a positive light. Last month, The New York Times ran just such a story about the first New York Sufi Music Festival, a free three-hour concert in Union Square, with music from the four provinces of Pakistan. Mumtaz, who has been an art director at HarperCollins in New York since 2007, was called upon to join the Pakistani Peace Builders team who were behind the event. “The initiative,” Mumtaz shares, “was conceived as a celebration of Pakistan’s rich culture and amazing Sufi music traditions, to remind the world of some of our shared values that are both humane and life affirming.”

For a cause such as this, taking time out from a full-time job that regularly demands long hours was a no-brainer for Mumtaz. “Any opportunity to work in the social sector is worth jumping at,” she explains. “As a successful Pakistani woman in New York City, I feel like I have been fortunate, so I try to give back.”

Mumtaz created the visual identity for the Pakistan Peace Builders; everything from the logo, stationery, stage design, banners, web and print invitations, which were distributed to every corner and borough in New York. This was obviously a project close to her heart – she had just two weeks to deliver and took it on pro bono. “We need more events like this,” Mumtaz says with urgency. “The PPB was formed after the attempted bombing in Times Square by a Pakistani-American.” Shaking her head in disbelief, she talks of how the only way to change the negative perception is by showing other sides to Pakistan, such as the Sufi festival did, presenting messages only of peace, love and tolerance. And she understands well the signifance of doing so.

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