By SYED M. ASLAM
Aug 20 - 26, 2001
Qaizar Saifee is an awarding winning professional
photographer with a difference: He is a qualified diver and underwater
photographer with certification from Professional Association of Diving
Instructors (PADI), California, USA. He is a member of the Costeau
Society, founded by living legend of modern scuba diving Jacques
Cousteau. Qaizar worked for Saudi Airlines at its Jeddah Headquarters
for 17 years till 1993 in Visual Communications, a part of the Airlines
Administrative services. His duties included developing audio-visuals
for training purposes of operational staff and cabin crew as well as
aviation photography for Saudi Airlines. He got his PADI certification
in 1981 in Jeddah. He has captured the rich and diversified marine
beauty of the Red Sea, one of the world's richest marine life habitat,
on the camera. He has extensively photographed coral reefs and marine
life during his 12-year diving in the Red Sea. He is shown here diving
with camera and one of the hundreds of stills he had shot under the Red
PAGE: You returned to Karachi from Saudi
Arabia in 1993. Have you dived in Arabian sea surrounding it?
Qaizar: I have not been able to carry on with
diving since I joined my family here eight years ago. Definitely I have
dived a couple of times around Churna Island in Balochistan near Karachi
coastal waters. The reason is that coastal areas here have no reefs due
to absence of warm temperature and high salinity ratio, a prerequisite
for the presence of coral reefs. The absence of this ideal climate for
marine life in Arabian sea as well as Indian Ocean is the main reason
for the absence of rich marine life like the ones in Red Sea, Great
Barrier Reefs of Australia and also in many parts of Far East, East
Africa and West Indies. The absence of coral reefs and vegetation which
serves as breeding grounds for exotic marine life explains why we have
plenty of sport fishing grounds but no exotic marine life. In addition,
the absence of deepwater ship wrecks, which could also serve as a
replacement for coral reefs to help develop marine life, also does not
offer much opportunities.
PAGE: So that explains why you have not been
able to pursue diving and underwater photography here?
Qaizar: Yes, more or less. However, I must add
that what has also discouraged diving as a pastime here is the fact that
it is primarily a very expensive hobby: You have to have a boat to reach
the spot in the deep sea to dive, the diving gear and underwater
photographic equipments are also very expensive. But despite having my
own diving gear and photographic equipments the absence of coral reefs
remain the major reason for my not diving here. Besides, the normal
diving vision around the coast of Karachi is threateningly small.
PAGE: How is that?
Qaizar: Internationally the normal diving
visibility; subject to such other factors as weather, salinity; is
approximately 30 feet. Around Karachi it is much less due primarily to
unchecked dumping of domestic waste and industrial effluents. This has
not only minimized the visibility but has also done an irreparable
damage to the marine life. It has also adversely affected the quality of
our fish and seafood to the point where it poses danger to human health.
PAGE: Besides the coral reefs and marine life
you have also photographed wild animals. Where did you shoot them, with
camera of course?
Qaizar: When I was in Jeddah one of my
brothers was stationed in Tanzania. I visited Tanzania four times and
had the opportunity to join Sarengeti, the best of the internationally
known wild Safaris, three times. The beauty of Sarengeti is that it is
one of the world's still untouched wildlife sanctuaries where animals
are allowed to roam free unlike many other such sanctuaries in other
parts of Africa where the movements of the animals are kept checked by
steel meshes and barbed wires. The safaris provided unique opportunities
for me to photograph the wild animals in their natural habitat.
PAGE: You have won a number of awards here in
Pakistan. Would you like to tell us about them?
Qaizar: My photographic works have helped me
win awards from the National Council of Culture and Arts, Karachi twice.
In 1987, my underwater photographs used by a national business group
helped me win second prize in the 12-page category of wall calendar. I
was credited for the photographs on the said calendar with words
"These visual impressions of unparallel beauty from the undersea
were recorded by Qaizar Saifee."
In 1995, I won the first prize in the same category
from NCCA for photographs depicting traditional jewellery of Pakistan.
The interesting aspect of this award was the fact that I had
photographed the jewellery without the inclusion of female form, a
decision which drew criticism that photographing jewellery without
female models would not be effective to make the necessary impact. I
must say that the criticism proved to be wrong. I may add, that though
as a professional photographer I had shot the female form in the past I
refuse anymore to include it in my works and am not least bothered by