By Haseeb Peer
A half a decade ago, I and most of my friends were oblivious of the datum that Pakistan possessed a music industry that could compete with some of the superlative music industries of the world. The only substantial thing from the Pakistani side, apart from Ghulam Ali and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, that had looked blissful to us as budding and growing youngsters, was Pakistan’s unpredictable cricket team that had achieved a cult fan following among us as we regularly followed its progress.
Nevertheless, in the summer of 2008 whilst surfing the internet in search of some appealing and melodious music, I personally came across a song “Yeh Hum Naheen” that had been sung in collaboration, by a majority of Pakistani artists. It took me some time to listen to this song and finally when the snooping was done, my discernment about Pakistan took half a U-turn. The next few months were ravenously exciting for me as I listened to a lot of Pakistani pop and this beautiful communicable effect was soon transported to my friends as well, who in due course of time became even bigger fans of the Pakistani pop.
A year passed and I had listened to a lot of Pakistani Stuff including JAL, EP, CALL, Roxen, Atif Aslam, Hadiqa Kiani, Aaroh and many others who had left an eternal and enduring feeling on my mind and my heart. Almost every time, I heard a new artist, I asked myself this question: How can they sing when there is so much panic around? Almost four years have passed and Pakistan seems to have this tree of natural talent from where they continuously sprout new musicians who not only impress the gen pop with their voice but also with their exuberating looks.
The music industry of Pakistan seems to move on and flourish in spite of the fact that there is mayhem and terror, day in and day out in Pakistan. Every week the stories about the death toll in Pakistan storm the international and the national headlines, but the gutsy, battered and bruised Pakistani musicians seem to blindfold themselves and move on with their job of producing harmonious music that inflames the hope among the people and keeps the spirit to live alive and well fostered. Pakistani musicians have always tried to trigger and arouse the sleeping spirit in the people and songs like Shor Macha have given the much needed boost to stand up for oneself.
Some time back Atif Aslam sang a song “Hath Uthao” for the flood victims and “Ab Khud Kuch Karna Pade Ga” in collaboration with Strings and most recently Hadiqa Kiani, underwent a hair cut for some cancer patients. These acts have clearly exemplified the fact to a large extent that Pakistani musicians want to move forward and help in building towards a classic Pakistani society that will hopefully be full of richness, colour, beauty and plenty of other optimistic expressions.
Criticism, disparagement, condemnation and numerous other pessimistic synonyms are associated with Pakistan these days, but the continuous flow of music and the materialization of the new artists have shut some of the criticizing mouths, if not all of them. I hope that a day would come in the next few years when the musicians would sing songs related to the prosperity of Pakistan and they would not have to sing songs related to war and bloodshed.