Oof! You think pop musicians are a 'community', 'one big happy family'? Well, you might want to watch this edition of Front Line with Kamran Shahid, which featured a no-holds barred, slash and burn squabble between some of pop music's leading lights. The programme was broadcast on Express TV on June 6.
Apparently this was Part 2 of a programme dealing ostensibly with corruption within non-governmental organizations (NGOs). On the panel were three pop stars - Abrarul Haq, Shehzad Roy and Jawwad Ahmed - each of whom have set up their own NGOs to 'give back to the people of Pakistan' in the health and education sectors (why musicians were singled out for this programme, I do not know).
In any case, what started off as a rather interesting discussion about the efficacy of NGOs in the face of overwhelming social problems - Jawwad Ahmed's point that NGOs are no solution to structural problems that require overturning basic social relationships being a valid one - soon deteriorated when Abrar took Jawwad's general point as some sort of personal attack on his NGO's work. In fact, Abrar's umbrage at Jawwad's criticism of NGOs being held out as some substitute to state responsibility, quickly degenerated into invoking religion and patriotism. To be fair to him, his upset was perhaps also motivated by an irritation at Jawwad's sometimes self-righteous tone and his desire to leave aside rhetoric and do something practical. However, his refusal to even consider Jawwad's view as having any merit made him come across as petulant that his attempt to sell NGO jargon ("the four I's") was being sidetracked.
The tensions over philosophical points of view boiled over by the end of the programme into an ugly and very personal slanging match between the two, wherein both accused each other of corruption and embezzlement. If anyone came across well, it has to be said it was the youngest of the three panelists, Shehzad Roy, who displayed a remarkable maturity in keeping himself above the fray. In addition, he seemed to clearly understand both points of view and what the issue being debated was. Which is more than one can say for the host, Kamran Shahid - incidentally, the son of film actor Shahid, in case you did not know - whose bumbling interventions consisted entirely of trying to drag the discussion to the level of soundbites about corruption.
Here's the programme. The real ugly fireworks begin in the last part but if you have the time and interest in the philosophical issue, recommend watching the whole thing.
On the one hand, I am sort of happy to see that (at least some of) Pakistan's pop musicians can actually think of things beyond multinational sponsorships and weirdo conspiracy theories and talk about real issues with some intelligence. On the other, I doubt I could watch their music videos any more without thinking of this exchange.