In 1977, the military staged a coup in Pakistan, replacing the populist socialist leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto with the Islamist General Zia-ul-Haq. What followed are now known as the black years of Pakistan’s history, with brutal enactments of barbaric laws to persecute minorities, suppress women and silence dissent. People were flogged in the streets for voicing opposition to the illegal dictator, and some were even hanged to death. Torture became commonplace, and a creeping right wing ‘morality’ suddenly flooded Pakistani life. Haal explores life in that era from the perspectives of a classical kathak dancer and a journalist. Each story, though seemingly unconnected to the other, shows a distinct facet of life under the Zia regime. Their stories show, on the one hand, how criticism was silenced with the military junta’s official policy of censorship and brutality, while on the other, how society was colored by Islamist overtones, thus pushing tolerance and acceptance of anything even remotely considered un-Islamic into the shadows.