(248) 426-7777 Saturday - Nov 28, 2015

“Hello Sir! This Is a Wake Up Call”

By Dr. Ashraf Ali, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent

With an artificial smile on his face, the heavy hearted Alamzeb Mujahid, announced his ‘pre-mature retirement’ from the ‘world of art’ at a hurriedly arranged press conference in Peshawar’s Press Club immediately after the popular comic figure got released from his captors.  “Today I say good bye to the world of art and I will no more be appearing on the television screen in future”, remarked Alamzeb Mujahid, adding ‘I will soon join Tablighi Jamaat to find salvation in the world hereafter”.

Mujahid 39, the evergreen drama artist himself became a drama when he was picked up by unknown armed men for ransom a few days ago from the posh area of Peshawar. Mujahid’s abduction proved as a blessing in disguise. The actor’s release from his abductees also secured him a release from the artificial life he has been leading as an actor for the last more than a decade. The famous comedian once said, “I regret being raised as an actor. I gave the precious moments of my life to an actor but in return the actor could give me nothing”.

Media reports said the actor had sensed the situation after he received threatening calls from unknown quarters. His relatives said he was all set to shift his family to Nowshera,  another locality – some thirty kilometers east of Peshawar but the kidnappers didn’t allow him and he was picked up before the idea could be materialized.

Though Mujahid is back home but the message from the Jihadis is clear. “Artists are no acceptation”.

The news of Mujahid’s abduction fell more heavy on the artists’  community which had not yet recovered from the shock of their fellow colleague, Arshad Hussain who went missing a couple of months ago and got recovered only after his family struck a deal with his captors. The mental trauma Hussain went through all this while, has badly affected his health. Hussain says he has lost almost eight kgs of his weight and partly his mental balance. The young and educated actor from Mardan who is roaming around office to office now seems to be tired. “I don’t think, this country has now any accommodation for artists”. “We have to make our way somewhere else”. But where and how – the disappointed Hussain is working on, knowingly how difficult the task is.

Haroon Bacha was lucky to make his way. Bacha, whose popular album “Awal ba kala kala Gham woo” – which earned him a worldwide fame, finally came to his rescue.  Finding the situation stifling, the famous folk singer, got settled in the United States of America before this melodious voice could be silenced.  Gulzar Alam moved the other way. Alam who rose to prominence for his famous revolutionary songs, sought to take refuge behind the beard, but it didn’t work.  The continuous threatening calls from unknown quarters made the versatile singer silently kept all the “symbols of revolution” back into the corner and parted ways with his profession. Like his senior fellow Gulzar Alam, the new arrival in the field, Sardar Yousufzai was also lucky to escape assassination bid on his life, however the young singer could not help his bleeding four fellows who met their deaths after the militants showered bullets on their vain on the main Mingora road leading to Mardan.

The phenomenon of targeting singers, artists and musicians is not new. North West Frontier Province started shrinking on them during the last government of the Muttahida Majlas-e-Amal (MMA) when it launched a campaign against ‘Anti-Islamic’ activities in Peshawar’s Dabgari garden, a hub of musical activities. Following a ban on cultural activities and especially musical concerts by the government of the MMA – a conglomerate of six religio-political parties, the musicians were left with no other option but to flee the city and settle in other parts of the country for their livelihood. The entertainment-starved Peshawarites were deprived of the only recreational opportunity when the lone Nishtar hall was closed for hosting stage dramas, musical concerts and other cultural activities. Some of the artists and musicians said good bye to the profession and opted for alternative businesses while the rest got involved in the Cd drama production. However the rising attacks on CD and video shops made the shopkeepers down their shutters causing a great blow to the business. A considerable decline in the production made the artists leave the field open for the militants to flood the market with their own brand of Jihadi CDs offering more attraction for its target audience and specially young lot. “Why not one watch the top ten suicides bomb attacks of the year instead of the top ten bollywood and lollywood songs”, replied Ghulam Ahmad 17, at a shop in Karkhano Market, who was here to buy a Jihadi CD.

Cinema houses throughout the province are already giving a deserted look. So is the case with wedding halls and community centers where no one could dare to host a musical concert. In a latest move, the bus drivers have started removing audio and video players from their vehicles after the militants threatened of committing suicide attacks on those passenger carriers which would play music or movies for the passengers. In a letter addressed to the transport workers in Mardan, the NWFP Chief Minister’s home town, the Taliban complained that buses offering such kind of entertainment were responsible for spreading ‘vulgarity and obscenity” and that it was a ‘source of mental agony for pious people’.

This warning should not be taken for granted. This is a wake up call.


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