Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Heavy Music

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.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

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.


Ahsan said...

SR's expression at 5:50 of the last video is really priceless. Poor guy.

bt said...

i am SO pleasantly surprised that our musicians can speak so intelligently about these serious issues. kudos to jawad ahmed and roy boy!

nayyares said...

I am surprised with Ibrar ul Haq's statement that his brother is getting 85 thousand per month from charity! he is getting a salary just about a reputed firm's Managing Director in Pakistan, does it makes sense to pay this much amount to an old ass army retired officer? His statement has contradictions, if his brother was a man of principles, he must be still working at Pakistan Army. He must had first full fill his contract/agreement with Army!

secondly, how on earth, Ibrar only could find his brother to offer that position? the post shouldn't be announced properly? what kind of BoG this organization have?, if they so easily got convinced to hire a retired Army officer for such a key position. shouldn't be there a fair competition to get well trained and purposely educated person for this job?

even my wife was surprised seeing them fighting and she said, "how easily these public figures let us down!"

ahad said...

Kinda interesting to see these guys talk intelligently over this topic. Abrar, I think suffers, from a surfeit of idealism, which really isn't a bad thing, I think. Yes he is naive but as long as he is trying to do some good on a physical, substantial level, its really alright. Its more than you can say for A LOT of people.

Jawwad and Shehzad speak rationally and pragmatically and are correct in their assessment, though poor Abrar must be given credit too (apart from all the mudslinging at the end). As stubborn as Abrar is, so is Jawwad's insistence on the significance of political clout in social organizations. Politics may be important but not as much, as say self-sustaining-whilst-doing-good economics (read: venture philanthropy). Jawwad's arguments are popular, however, they do contain overarching assumptions over how NGOs (or ones with proper structure anyways) operate. I do like how informed these 'musicians' (the label may need to be changed lol) are.

It would have been fascinating had anyone mentioned the new of breed of NGOs which operate on business concepts such as transparency, accountability and breaking even over the long run even whilst doing social good.

Debate is interesting because there are flaws in arguments. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Great stuff!

PS pity regarding the descent of social/political welfare into the minefield of religion (which has become vogue in Pakistan)

PS1 pity also the rather nasty scenes, despite their great viewing value. These are thoroughly nice guys caught up in the heat of the moment.

PS2 someone vote for Shehzad Roy