Video blog: City of the oppressed

Published: August 20, 2011

While crossing the ugly, narrow streets you will find countless small, wooden doors, almost on every wall. They are mostly locked from the outside, but you can hear a continuous, disturbing noise echoing from these rooms.

This haunting noise is the outcome of those power looms that run with the sweat and blood of tens of thousands of workers. If you dare to enter any of the small rooms, you would feel as though you have entered a machine. The walls say it all; they are full of cotton dust and silk web, causing dangerous lung diseases amongst the majority of people who work here. Welcome to Faisalabad, Pakistan’s largest industrial city, with no basic human rights for workers.

This is probably the city with the highest ratio of child labour in Pakistan. Saif-ud-din has been working for 50 years in the power loom industry and he is now in his 60s. He works for 14-16 hours every day, and earns hardly a rupee over 300. He lives in a house that is 75 square meters and he shares this meager space with a family of twenty people. Sadly, however, this is the story of every other house in the industrial areas of Faisalabad, where the vicious circle of exploitation begins at an early age and it continues till death.

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Ammar Aziz

An independent filmmaker and political activist who teaches film theory at NCA. He blogs at and tweets at @ammar_aziz

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • TightDhoti

    These are the children who really make “sacrifices” in the name of national security. There childhood is lost as state institutions are stripped bare of skills and resources to meet the needs of future generations of Pakistanis. If only nuclear weapons could provide secure environments for our young! But damn that. Our priorities are something totally different!Recommend

  • freegal

    This is really heartbreaking reality about child labor.

    Thanks for sharing this awesoem video.Recommend

  • Natasha Suleman


    Well said tightdhoti.

    Thanks for sharing Ammar.Recommend

  • Zawar Comrade

    Ammar sb ! aap nay short documentary mein fsd kay child labor par loom owners kay mazalam or child labor kay jazbat ko eis andaz say explain kia hay, kay bachay ki guftagu sun kur ankhno mein ansoo or dil o damagh par class struggle ko strong kurnay ka aazim ghalib ho jata hay,last seen mein tu aap ny fsd kay clock tower kay around mein city of oppressed ko reality mein biaan kur dia hay,mehnat kashno kay liay inqilab ki tameer kurnay wala aik film maker hi yeh sub kuch dekha sakta tha,well done,pakistan kay mehnat kashno ko aap say hohat umeedian wabusta hain.inqilabi film maker ko surkh salam .Recommend

  • AS

    Ammar Aziz.I am so so impressed by the keen and humanitarian eye of urs.So rightly said by Mr.Zawar above.This is a remarkable short story and I think that you shud try to send it to some international documentary film festival.You have showed me a part of Pakistan, which I would have never known living abroad.I would have never even heard of this.It breaks my heart. How inhuman and devilish these bosses and Loom factory owners are,They should be arrested and their factories taken away.If you knw of any human rights agency or something which is international plz send ur documentary and ask them to help you raise ur voice against such inhumanityRecommend

  • Alexander Kelly

    Hello. I’m an editor for Your video on Pakistan’s textile factories and the children who work them is one of the truly great marriages of art and journalism to appear in recent months.

    See my post on the video here:

    Thanks for reporting.


  • Ignazio Bologna

    I, too, thank you, Ammar. Your voice is very important, & must be heard – suffering which is hidden from sight is far worse for all of humanity than suffering that is exposed. The rich & their governments would hide everything until all memory of goodness & we ourselves disappear, if we let them.Recommend