Tag Archives: crash

JJ! The icon of 90’s Pakistan

8 Dec

I haven’t written anything in a while. I have been thinking of writing about few things for quite some time now, but somehow did not feel motivated enough to do so. But something happened today. Something that has affected me on a personal level and I feel like it will consume me if I don’t put it into words.

In all honesty I feel surprised at how much of a personal loss I felt when I first read the news of Junaid Jamshed aboard the ill fated PK-661. But I understand. Being a Pakistani millennial (or 90’s kid as we prefer calling it here), it was almost impossible not to have any effect of Junaid on your personal life. I am not using ‘personal‘ here in loose terms. This is true for many of us.

My first memory of him, like thousands of other kids back in the day is, of course, ‘Dil Dil Pakistan‘ and the nostalgia connected with it. It is more than just a patriotic song of my homeland. It was the song for which I would especially ask my mother to wake me up during late night PTV  programs. It was the song for which I would turn my focus away from my books and towards the TV while my mother was trying to put some Math in me (and ultimately pay a hefty price for it). It reminds me of happy times. And simpler times. It reminds me of 14th August every year. It reminds of the small Pakistan flags I would put up all over the walls of my childhood home. It reminds me of a time when I could proudly and whole heartedly embrace my love for my country without looking into its many flawed dynamics.

For many, his voice is reminiscent of their first love. Junaid belonged to first true ‘pop‘ boyband of Pakistan. For 90’s youth, melodies produced by Vital Signs provided a hefty dose of the carefree elation of young love as well as an antidote for broken hearts. Then of course there was a time when he started his solo career and many people weren’t sure if it would make the same impact. However when the first album came out it was an even bigger success with the most memorable romantic melodies and music videos that are timeless and still resonate with the common man, kind of like Ghalib’s poetry. The very first mix tape I made had the most songs from that very album. I still remember the countless times I would switch on my PC sitting in my hostel room only to listen to ‘Aietbar‘ on Winamp. It might not be true to call Junaid the best vocalist or musician ever produced by Pakistan, but his voice certainly resonated with the common man’s heart in the rawest, most honest manner no one else’s could. Sometime after he had decided to call it quits on his music career, he once happened to be on board the same flight of which my Uncle was captain. He recalls a frank chat with Junaid where he asked him the reason for quitting music, especially when his voice meant so much for so many people in Pakistan and around the world. “Why would Allah want to take that help away from people?”, he argued. My uncle, an avid fan, felt compelled to ask this question because he like many others saw it as no less than a tragedy to never be able to take the positive energy from his voice again.

But as time showed he never actually quit music. Not truly anyway. Apart from voicing ‘nasheeds‘ and ‘Naats‘, he would occasionally sing something, without musical instruments (if he could stop Salman from playing the guitar). While it was not the same thing, many of us who loved his voice still cherished these rare occurances.

But he was not just a singer. It would be unfair to his legacy to look at only one aspect of his life. If we are talking about the 90’s generation and the effect JJ had on their lives on a personal level, it would be dishonest not to mention that he was also an inspiration to a large segment of population for his religious and spiritual transformation. While all may not necessarily understand or agree with the choices he made, it is true that he found peace in something which eludes a lot of people and who spend their lifetimes without having a moment of acceptance. He had found it in religion. In this aspect as well, he very much represented the 90’s Pakistan and his transition to post-90’s evangelism that mirrored what was happening with a large segment of Pakistani youth which meant that he continued to be a hero to many people, even if not the same ones. His brand of religiosity like all other brands had its positive and negative elements. People, even fans like me, had a field day joking about some of his lets-just-say ‘inconsistencies’ for the lack of a better word. I would argue that even that was on many levels purely out of love for him because we all felt personally connected to him and felt ownership over his personal life like only true fans would. But by all accounts he was content with the life choices he made and continued to touch people’s hearts one way or the other. Like most people he was a man of many colours. But he was definitely THE icon of 90’s Pakistan and his life journey had stark similarities with Pakistani society itself. He may no longer be among us but he left an indelible mark and us 90s kids will forever be indebted to him.


P.S Time to listen to ‘Aitebar‘ one more time.



Pimping the impact of sight

21 Apr

Hajjaj Bin Yousuf was probably one of the worst tyrants Islamic history has ever seen. He killed men by tens of thousands, attacked companions of Prophet SAW and targeted the Kaaba itself. While many would frown at the last deed the most, Prophet SAW himself valued believer’s life more than the Kaaba itself according to the hadith. And why wouldn’t he? Human life is precious. There are many other examples in history of  the world as well of butchers of human bodies. When we read about them today, words can not make the same impact today compared to those who would have seen them. In modern times, such acts are unheard of. Because tyrants of today have gotten smarter. Now they use flying aircrafts if they need to kill tens of thousands. Apparently explosions do not make that much of an impact as may be someone executing enemies in a conventional throat slitting ways. So tyrants of today end up getting nobel prize for ending the wars they themselves fueled.

In May 2008 an angry mob in Karachi set two thieves on fire. From that point onward there have been few other cases of mob justice in Karachi where some culprits have been beaten to death while some paraded with blackened faces. Of course the trend is not limited to Karachi. Most recently, in Multan a robber who was involved in a murder, was stoned to death by the angry mob. His accomplice after seeing the man’s face took his own life to ‘save’ himself from being on the receiving end of such a fate.

But none of these incidents created a stir and shock that happened after the Sialkot incident when two alleged robber brothers were beaten to death with bats and sticks. I have never experienced being burnt alive or getting a beat of a lifetime so I wouldn’t know which case would have been worse. But I imagine being burned alive wouldn’t be any less painful than being beaten to death.

But why the Karachi incident did not incite the same reaction as the Sialkot one? Why no blogs/articles/tweets/re-tweets were shared for that incident?

The reason is simple. Sialkot incident was captured by a device which is commonly known as ‘camera’. When people saw that horrible scene most were dumb founded. Many claim they could not sleep properly for days. The memory of that incident probably lives in every house of Pakistan which owns a TV. The Almighty camera did the trick and gave every one some reason to bitch around a bit more. Articles, their rebuttals, talk shows, news etc were all about that incident for the few coming days.

In today’s world we need to see the picture to be jolted (only for a moment though) to remind us that there are children dying in Africa or being killed in Israel.

And in the battle of today’s ratings for TV channels the best way is to find a way to make people watch the channel or talk about it. So no matter how disturbing the content is, if you are in-charge of news room of a Pakistani channel, all you need to do is NEVER LET THE CAMERA TURN OFF! The gorier the better. You need to capture the event thoroughly, gloat about being the first TV channel to give live coverage to the incident, make your crew shove microphones in front of affected people of any tragedy (better if they are crying at that moment) and edit the videos by adding some cheesy songs to it.

I once saw news editor in chief of a major English newspaper speak in a talk show in which he was harping about the fact that media does not need to have any code imposed on it as it can rectify its own mistakes. The show was about the fallout of infamous Maya Khan incident. Interestingly after some weeks when people’s memory faded away, Maya Khan was hired by another news channel where she is still hosting the show while gloating about her piety all the while.

That can be excused as a non serious issue. But what to do with the style of media reporting of incidents like the Bhoja Air crash? Our media has become a mafia which does not want to be tamed, neither is interested in rectifying its own mistakes as it has not happened for the first time. The memory of Air Blue crash has not yet faded away. That time as well, every one criticized media and its role as harshly as anyone could but when the same thing happens within the second anniversary year of that incident, why there is no change in the attitude of reporting? Media wants to become the sole morality judge while does not wish itself to be under any kind of scrutiny. And than some people have the audacity to cry about unnecessary censorships. Free speech is practiced across many countries. In how many of them, have channels been showing constant corpses, melodramatic musicals of national tragedies, take interviews of terrorists or give air time to people calling for/supporting the murder of the governor of its biggest province?

Reason why media is in such a state may have multiple factors behind it. But to illustrate one of them let us take a quiz, shall we?

Q 1. Which channel does the most awful melodramatic reporting?
Q 2. Which channel do you tune into whenever you wish to know details of any breaking news?

If the answer of both of the above questions is the same channel, than I guess it can give you the fair idea of why there has been no improvement in our way of reporting.

When I heard the news of the tragedy yesterday I switched off all the news channels. But due to bad habits and addiction, could not really sign off from my social sites. Many people were citing many examples of how disgusted they were feeling of the corpses being shown, ridiculous questions being asked from victim’s families and the obnoxious lust of news channels. Why not switch the damn TV off if it is bothering you that much?

Until we learn to use our remote control, I am afraid no matter how many tweets or blogs are written, the behavior of media will hardly change.

They should rethink their strategies again though. Kevin Carter who won the Pulitzer prize for his photograph of the Sudanese kid besides the vulture, ended up committing suicide.