Today's Pakistan: Conservative or Progressive?

Pakistan is often portrayed in the international media, particularly the western media, as a highly tradition-bound conservative society dominated by Taliban sympathizers.  Fatima Bhutto, a granddaughter of former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, offers evidence to suggest otherwise. 

Fatima Bhutto

In  a recent Op Ed published in The Guardian titled "Superheroes, jazz, queer art: how Pakistan’s transgressive pop culture went global", Fatima Bhutto offers recent examples of the Pakistani pop culture going global. In particular, she cites television series Ms. Marvel, feature film Joyland, Grammy winning Urdu singer Arooj Aftab, world-famous qawwali singers Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen, celebrated artists Shazia Sikandar and Salman Toor,  and novelists like Mohammad Hanif, the author of "A Case of Exploding Mangoes". 

Fatima talks about the history of the ongoing struggle between the conservatives and the progressives that dates back to the nation's independence in 1947. She also contrasts Pakistan with India: "Though Bollywood films from earlier decades addressed injustice, feudalism and political oppression, today the industry is little more than a mouthpiece for India’s quasi-fascist rightwing government, obsessed with spit-shining the image of its prime minister, Narendra Modi". Below are a some excepts of Fatima Bhutto's Op Ed:

1. "Even though the film (Joyland) was...subject to various bans in Pakistan, after being accused of pushing an LGBTQ+ agenda and misrepresenting Pakistani culture, it finally appeared in Pakistani cinemas in November, with Malala Yousafzai signing on as executive producer".  Note: Joyland was the first Pakistani film to be screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival where "it won the Un Certain Regard prize, receiving a standing ovation nearly 10 minutes long".   

2. "Ms Marvel follows Kamala Khan, whose parents, formerly of Karachi and now of New Jersey, are not caricatures of immigrant parents, but droll and charming, embarrassing in the way all parents are while their young daughter suffers the indignities of teenagers everywhere. The writing team knows only too well the codes and ciphers of Pakistani life and have seamlessly blended them into this Disney tale. Kamala has a brother who prays constantly (every Pakistani family has one resident fundamentalist), her father quotes poetry at the dinner table and Nakia, her hijab-wearing best friend, has her shoes stolen at the mosque – a timeless rite of passage for all mosque-going Muslims". 

3. "In the past few months, the contemporary Pakistani artists Shahzia Sikander and Salman Toor have been glowingly profiled in the New Yorker; Toor’s Four Friends recently sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $1.2m (£0.99m). His paintings are celebrated for their depictions of queer intimacy, and reimaginings of classical masterpieces from Caravaggio to Édouard Manet. “My immediate reaction was that this artist could paint anything and make me believe in it,” wrote the New Yorker’s Calvin Tomkins".

4. "Pakistanis have always understood their heritage to be culturally rich and transgressive: from the romance of the Urdu language, spoken by poets and in royal courts, to qawwali singers as diverse as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen, to television dramas and literature. Artists such as Iqbal Bano sang songs against dictators and shows on state television satirized military juntas with jokes so sophisticated that even army censors couldn’t catch them. In 1969, Pakistan state television aired Khuda Ki Basti, or God’s Own Land, a series set in a Karachi slum in the tumultuous days after independence, from a classic Urdu novel. To ensure that the drama was faithful to the novel, Pakistan state television convened a board of intellectuals to oversee the scripts, including Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of the country’s most beloved poets". 

5. “We’ve been having a really hard time in a post-9/11 world,” says the Brooklyn-based Arooj Aftab, the first Pakistani musician to win a Grammy, taking home the 2022 award for best global music performance. Aftab’s album Vulture Prince reimagines traditional ghazals, melancholic love poems born out of Arabic and Persian literary traditions. “There’s been a significant amount of Islamophobia and a lot of bad marketing towards Pakistan in general – associations with terrorism and pain and Afghanistan-adjacent confusion – while the narrative around a lot of other south Asian countries is like ‘Oh my God! Beauty! Exotic landscapes! Yoga!’ And the west loves that shit.”

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistani-American Gay Physicist Nergis Mavalvala

Emmy Winning British Pakistani Riz Ahmed

History of South Asians in America

HBO Comedy "Silicon Valley" Stars Pakistani-American

Pakistanis Make Up Largest Foreign-Born Muslim Group in Silicon Valley

Karachi to Hollywood: Triple Oscar Winning Pakistani-American

Burka Avenger: Pakistani Female Superhero 

Pakistani-American Grammy Winning Urdu Singer Arooj Aftab

Pakistani-American Leads NYC Gay Parade

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Ms. Marvel: Pakistani-American Girl Superhero

Pakistani-American Author-Journalist Raza Rumi in Silicon Valley

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

The Big Sick

Pakistani-American Diaspora Thriving in America

British Pakistani Singer Zayn Malik


Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had a Global Year
From Cannes to the Grammys, the country’s arts shone on multiple occasions in 2022

By Surbhi Gupta

Between the first Pakistani win at the Grammys, the first Pakistani film to be selected at the Cannes Film Festival, a Pakistani song topping the most-searched list on Google, local actors featured in international series, and the highest-grossing film in the history of Pakistani cinema, 2022 has been a banner year for Pakistani art.

Pakistani music and television dramas have long been popular cultural exports in South Asia and its diaspora communities. Yet some legendary artists and performers have enjoyed legacies transcending the subcontinent, placing the country squarely on the global map. The singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, known as the “Shahenshah-e-Qawwali” (the “King of Kings of Qawwali”), single-handedly popularized the musical form among international audiences. A form of devotional song, qawwalis were originally performed at Sufi shrines across South Asia. He toured extensively, performing in over 40 countries in the 1980s and ’90s and becoming an inspiration for musicians the world over, from the United States to India and beyond.

In 1981, 15-year-old Nazia Hassan and her elder brother Zohaib made history when their album “Disco Deewane” became one of Asia’s best sellers. It broke all records in Pakistan and India and charted in 14 countries, including the West Indies and Russia. Nazia went on to pioneer disco revolution in Indian film music in the 1980s. In the ‘90s, the four-member band Junoon put Sufi rock on the musical map when they merged elements of rock with Sufi poetry and instruments such as the tabla and dholak. Dubbed the “U2 of Pakistan” by Western media, Junoon performed at New York’s Central Park in 1998 to an audience of over 20,000, quite apart from other concerts in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and Japan.

After two decades, Pakistani pop culture and art finds itself in the limelight once again this year. Coke Studio is the longest-running musical program in Pakistan, ongoing since 2008. Now on YouTube, the show creates studio-recorded collaborations between established and emerging artists in the country, fusing a myriad of music influences such as classical, folk, Sufi, qawwali, ghazal and bhangra with hip hop, rock and pop. It is extremely popular in South Asia, with fans awaiting it with great anticipation. When season 14 was released this January, it was no surprise that it was a success.

What no one had expected, however, was that the song “Pasoori” — a collaboration between the Pakistani singer Ali Sethi, who has a huge following in South Asia, and Shae Gill, a newcomer popular on Instagram for her covers — would turn out to be a global hit. Apart from racking up almost 460 million views on YouTube and becoming the most watched Coke Studio video, it also became the first Pakistani song to top Spotify’s global viral charts. Last week, it was revealed that it topped the list of most-searched songs on Google in 2022, beating the K-pop band BTS.

“Pasoori” — which roughly translates to “conflict” or “difficulty” in Punjabi, a language spoken in both India and Pakistan — draws on the age-old story of forbidden love. It emerged from Sethi’s experiences in engaging with the walls that exist between India and Pakistan, countries that share histories and cultures but are always at the brink of war. The song’s popularity prompted several Western publications to take notice of Sethi and commission stories on him. He now has over 5.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had a Global Year
From Cannes to the Grammys, the country’s arts shone on multiple occasions in 2022

By Surbhi Gupta

Fans flooded social media with their covers and remixes of the song, which fused South Asian motifs with electronic dance tunes. Coke Studio itself released a remixed version in August, featuring a global collaboration between Sethi, the Egyptian rapper Marwan Moussa and the Nigerian singer Reekado Banks. To celebrate the success and popularity of this season, an in-person concert, Coke Studio Live, was held for the first time in Dubai. On Friday, Gill and Sethi released an acoustic version of the song in collaboration with the Grammy-winning American artist Noah Georgeson.

Following the runaway success of “Pasoori,” Pakistan enjoyed another high moment in April. In Los Angeles, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Arooj Aftab became the first Pakistani to win a Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance for her single “Mohabbat,” her reinterpretation of Pakistani singer Mehdi Hassan and poet Hafeez Hoshiyarpuri’s famed ghazal. She was also invited by the White House to perform during Eid celebrations in May and went on a tour of over 15 cities in Europe and North America. Aftab has been nominated again this year for “Udhero na,” her collaboration with the Indian-origin sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

Another triumph came in May, when the filmmaker Saim Sadiq’s directorial debut “Joyland” became the first Pakistani film to be selected as an official entry at the Cannes Film Festival. In addition to receiving a long standing ovation — which in itself is considered an award at Cannes — the film won the Jury Prize and Queer Palm Prize. It later became Pakistan’s first-ever official entry to the Oscars and has generated much buzz among moviegoers globally. It was invited to the Toronto International Film Festival and also screened at the Busan International Film Festival.

Unpacking nuances of gender and patriarchy, the film follows Haider, the youngest son of “a happily patriarchal joint family” in Lahore, who yearns for the birth of a baby boy. Though married, he falls in love with a trans starlet he meets after secretly joining an erotic dance theater group. “Their impossible love story slowly illuminates the entire Rana family’s desire for a sexual rebellion,” read the Cannes synopsis.

The film generated great interest and controversy for its storyline and for featuring the trans actor Alina Khan. It was almost banned in Pakistan ahead of its release in November, amid a heated campaign against trans rights by religious hardliners. Yet the global interest in the film and a dedicated social media campaign prompted the federal government to intervene and pave the way for its release. This was unprecedented: Film bans are common in Pakistan, but reversing them is not. However, the film is still not running in Punjab, where it is based, and distributors have no hope for its release.

“The feat achieved by ‘Joyland’ is remarkable as Pakistani cinema is at a nascent stage,” said Shaheera Anwar, a Pakistani entertainment journalist. The country “neither has a thriving film industry like India nor an indie film culture. It has no film festivals like other countries to showcase local stories.”

The year was also marked by several international outings made by Pakistani actors. In June, a web series on Disney+, “Ms. Marvel” — based on the first Muslim superhero to headline her own comic — featured the Pakistani-American teen Kamala Khan, who finds herself imbued with superpowers emanating from a bangle passed down by her grandmother in Pakistan. It was one of the first international series to star some of Pakistan’s most prominent actors, including Samina Ahmad, Fawad Khan, Mehwish Hayat and Nimra Bucha.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had a Global Year
From Cannes to the Grammys, the country’s arts shone on multiple occasions in 2022

By Surbhi Gupta

The series was well-received by critics and viewers alike for breaking from stereotypical screen portrayals of Pakistani women, while at the same time getting the religious and cultural nuances of a Pakistani household right. The show also referenced a subject sensitive for many South Asians: the Partition in 1947 that resulted in the formation of India and Pakistan as two independent countries. Considered one of the greatest migrations in human history, nearly 15 million people were displaced and 1 million were killed in the riots that followed.

In November, Humayun Saeed, a leading actor in Pakistan, featured in the fifth season of “The Crown,” Peter Morgan’s celebrated Netflix series on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Saeed played the role of Dr. Hasnat Khan, the British-Pakistani surgeon who dated Princess Diana for about two years. Elsewhere, the actor Ahad Raza Mir was seen in “Resident Evil,” an American action horror series, also on Netflix.

The British film “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” written by the screenwriter Jemima Khan, who lived in Pakistan for many years during her marriage to former Prime Minister Imran Khan, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. A cross-cultural rom-com set in both London and Lahore, it was directed by the veteran Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur. From Pakistan, it features the leading actor Sajal Aly in its star cast. The team was recently in Jeddah for the Red Sea Film Festival.

“All the outings are significant for Pakistani actors, as the country does not have a local streaming platform, and none of the major platforms, such as Netflix or Amazon, have commissioned any original series in the country,” said Anwar. “There is Zee5, an Indian platform that is bankrolling original web series in Pakistan, but, unfortunately, they are not available for viewing here.” The bread and butter for Pakistani actors to date has been local television dramas, which are often exported around the world and dubbed in multiple languages.

The Punjabi film “The Legend of Maula Jatt,” which took almost a decade to produce, was released this October. Some of the best actors in Pakistan came together for the film, including Fawad Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Mahira Khan, Humaima Malik and Mirza Gohar Rasheed. A remake of a 1979 cult classic, it follows the local folk hero Maula Jatt as he takes on Noori Natt, his archnemesis and the leader of a brutal clan. Apart from rave reviews, in which one critic described it as “‘Game of Thrones’ meets ‘Gladiator,’” the film broke all records at the box office and became the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time. The most expensive Pakistani film to be made, it drew sold-out screenings in several countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and France, and collected about 2.3 billion Pakistani rupees or 230 crores ($10 million) worldwide.

Perhaps, after two decades, Pakistani pop culture has now come of age. In 2002, when electronic media was liberalized in Pakistan, ironically under the dictatorial rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, it paved the way for the entry of private players. A number of TV channels sprung up, such as Geo TV, ARY and Hum TV. It served as a breeding ground for local talent and revived the entertainment industry, which had taken a hit due to the Islamization drive by Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

This was further fueled by social media and streaming platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Spotify, which democratized content creation. Moreover, careers in the field have also become more acceptable in the past 10 to 15 years. Before then, it was looked down upon in Pakistan. As the leading screenwriter Vasay Chaudhry said in a recent panel discussion in Lahore, people either didn’t want to enter the industry or their families didn’t allow them to.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had a Global Year
From Cannes to the Grammys, the country’s arts shone on multiple occasions in 2022

By Surbhi Gupta

In addition to music and cinema, it has also been a good year for Pakistani art. Last month, the New York-based Pakistani artist Salman Toor’s most celebrated and powerful painting — his 2019 work “Four Friends” — sold for a record price at a Sotheby’s auction. Highlighting an intimate moment in the life of young brown queer men in New York, it was the key painting in Toor’s widely acclaimed solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2020-21. At this auction, it was expected to sell for a maximum of $400,000 but instead fetched $1.2 million. Toor, who hails from Lahore, has become one the most sought-after artists in the contemporary scene. “Demand from collectors remains very high for Toor,” wrote Lucius Elliott, Sotheby’s head of The Now Evening Auction in New York, ahead of the event. “As Toor continues to gain institutional recognition, as well as interest from the general public, I think there will continue to be increased interest from collectors.”

All in all, Pakistani pop culture, which has always enjoyed popularity locally, in South Asia and its diaspora, has had a remarkable year. It can pride itself on having cut across languages, borders and cultures and left a global mark.
Riaz Haq said…
I'm afraid many have unwittingly bought into Islamophobic stereotypes of Pakistan and Pakistanis that are promoted by the Hindutva brigade now ruling India, and its compliant Godi media.

The fact is that, in spite of Modi's best efforts, Pakistani culture still finds a lot of admirers in India.

Although Indian government has banned airing of Pakistani content on Indian TV channels, Pakistani food, fashion, music and entertainment are still popular in India. Examples include Shan masala, dresses by fashion designers like Sana Safinaz, Coke Studio, HUM TV dramas, films like Maula Jatt etc etc.

A lot of Pakistani music and entertainment are available in India and elsewhere via steaming platforms like Spotify and Netflix which younger audiences enjoy.

Pakistani products like Shan masala and women's dresses can be purchased online via Amazon and other e-commerce sites.

Please check out the following:

"Why Pakistan's Shan masalas have a cult following in India"
The Pakistani packaged masala brand has many fans in India, despite a somewhat erratic supply chain. What makes it so popular?

"The Pop Song That’s Uniting India and Pakistan"

"10 landmark Pakistani shows that were hugely popular in India"
Riaz Haq said…
Why was Pakistani pop culture so big in 2022?
December 28, 20223:59 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered

2022 saw a rise of Pakistani pop culture worldwide, punctuated by a Grammy win, Ms. Marvel and an ovation at Cannes.

SHAPIRO: The first Muslim superhero to have her own comic.

SURBHI GUPTA: Showing a Pakistani American teen in a Pakistani household, that felt amazing.


Journalist Surbhi Gupta wrote about this banner year for Pakistani pop culture in New Lines Magazine.

GUPTA: We in South Asia know of this, but there were too many global moments, you know. And I was like, OK, this needs to be out there.

MCCAMMON: Gupta was born and raised in India. She writes that this is far from the first time Pakistani culture has made a global splash.

GUPTA: So, like, in the '80s, you know, my parents would talk about the Hassan siblings. They were the rage with "Disco Deewane."


NAZIA HASSAN: (Singing) Disco, disco, disco deewane.

SHAPIRO: That 1981 album broke sales records in Pakistan and India, and it charted worldwide, including places like Russia and the West Indies.

MCCAMMON: This year, a Pakistani hit again drew global attention.


SETHI AND GILL: (Singing in non-English language).

MCCAMMON: The song "Pasoori" by Ali Sethi and Shae Gill climbed to the top of Spotify's global viral charts, and Google searches for it beat out tracks by the K-pop group BTS and the singer Harry Styles.

SHAPIRO: Then in April, the Brooklyn-based Pakistani singer and composer Arooj Aftab won a Grammy for best global music performance for her rendition of the traditional song "Mohabbat."


AFTAB: (Singing in non-English language).

It's important to define this moment, I think, for everyone and ourselves.

MCCAMMON: We spoke with her earlier this year before she won that award. And while Aftab was excited about being nominated in a global music category, being part of the best new artist category sent a bigger message about her place on the world stage.

AFTAB: The industry has put us in these other categories for such a long time because of the sort of racial climate of America for all this while. And so this moment where I'm in this best new artist category next to all these other artists is a monumental moment.

SHAPIRO: Pakistan had monumental moments in film this year, too, with the first Pakistani film ever officially selected for the Cannes Film Festival, a transgender love story called "Joyland."


SHAPIRO: Here's Gupta again.

GUPTA: It's about a family in Lahore, and it unpacks, like, different nuances of gender and patriarchy. And then, like, his relationship with this trans starlet, this was almost banned. But the international recognition that the film had had kind of forced the federal government to intervene and then pave the way for its release.

MCCAMMON: We asked her, what's spurring this renaissance? One theory - the world is ready.

GUPTA: I think it's been 20 years since 9/11. So there were a lot of stereotypes also associated to Pakistanis and Muslims, which I think now perhaps we are shedding.

MCCAMMON: Still, she says, Pakistani artists are doing it on their own terms, being authentically themselves.

GUPTA: American pop culture has such a strong influence globally to kind of define what local culture has become. But I think the beauty of Pakistani culture is that it is not pretending to be something it is not.

SHAPIRO: That's Surbhi Gupta. Her article, "Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had A Global Year," is in New Lines Magazine.


SETHI AND GILL: (Singing in non-English language).
Riaz Haq said…
#India release of much-awaited #Pakistani blockbuster postponed. The postponement of
Legend of Maula Jatt comes as #Hindu far-rights groups in India have threatened to oppose the release of the film that has so far grossed more than $10m at the box office.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, sources confirmed that despite getting approval from India’s central censor board, the film was not screened on December 30, as previously planned.

“The film received its approval from the censor board, but its release was stopped due to unknown reasons,” a member of the team behind the movie confirmed to Al Jazeera.

The sources said that the distributors are trying to seek a new release date.

Al Jazeera also sought comments from an official of Zee Studio, which has acquired the rights to the movie in India, but the request was declined citing the “sensitivity of the matter”.

INOX Leisure, an Indian multiplexes chain, had on December 26 said that the movie will be screened in the northern Indian state of Punjab as well as select theatres in the capital New Delhi, confirmed to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency that they were informed by the distributors that the release of the film has been delayed.

“We have been informed by the distributors that the release of the film has been postponed. We were told this two to three days ago. No further date has been shared with us,” an official from multiplex chain INOX told PTI.

The Indian censorship board has so far made no official statement on the reasons behind the delay in the release of the movie, which could have been the first Pakistani film in 11 years to be released in India.

The Legend of Maula Jatt, directed by 38-year-old Bilal Lashari, was released worldwide in October this year, garnering global acclaim.

The film, the adaptation of the 1979 cult classic Maula Jatt, stars Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, both of whom have previously worked in Bollywood – the Hindi-language film industry in India.

But sources told Al Jazeera that it is “highly unlikely” that any of the cast, including Fawad and Mahira, will travel to India even if the film does get the green light in the future.

Pakistani artists have been unofficially barred from performing in India, despite no formal ban, since 2016, when 19 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack on an army camp in Uri town in Indian-administered Kashmir.

India blames Pakistani for backing armed groups fighting for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan – a charge Islamabad denies. Both India and Pakistan claim the Muslim-majority region in its entirety but govern only parts of it.

The ties between the nuclear-armed South Asian nations worsened in the wake of the deadly attack on Indian soldiers in 2019, with even sporting events put on hold between the two neighbours.

Islamabad halted diplomatic and trade ties with New Delhi after India’s Hindu nationalist government stripped the Kashmir region of its special status in 2019.

Pakistani cricketers are already kept put from the Indian Premier League (IPL) since 2009, the biggest domestic T20 cricket league in the world.

No Pakistani player has participated in the league, despite no formal ban, after the deadly Mumbai attacks in November 2008.

Riaz Haq said…
There have been 357 Pakistani esports players that have been awarded a total of $5,329,360.58 USD in prize money across 315 tournaments. The highest awarding game was Dota 2 with $4,522,888.59 USD won, making up 84.87% of all earnings by Pakistani players. Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan is the highest earning Pakistani player with $3,880,289.31 USD in prize money won overall, all of which was won from playing in Dota 2 tournaments.,all%20earnings%20by%20Pakistani%20players.

Riaz Haq said…
Qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan featured on Rolling Stone’s list of 200 Best Singers of All Time

Lata Mangeshkar, Elton John, Bob Marley, Usher, Stevie Nicks, Taylor Swift, Bono, Michael Jackson and BTS’ Jungkook were also on the list.

Qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has been featured on American magazine Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 Best Singers of All Time. He claimed the 91st spot on the list, which also features artists such as K-pop boy band BTS’ Jungkook, South Korean singer-songwriter IU, late Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar and Canadian singer The Weeknd.

The list was published on Sunday. “Watching archival performances of the late Pakistani vocal master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan — an icon in the realm of Qawwali, a type of Sufi devotional song, whose family’s musical legacy stretched back hundreds of years — it’s easy to lose track of time, and to hear how his music easily reached global audiences in the eighties when he began performing abroad and recording for Peter Gabriel’s Real World label,” the magazine wrote for the ‘Dum Mast Mast’ singer.

It discussed Khan’s fans from within the global music industry, including Madonna, Eddie Vedder whom he worked with for Dead Man Walking soundtrack and Jeff Buckley, who called him his “Elvis”.

The top spot on the list was secured by late American singer-songwriter Aretha Franklin followed by Whitney Houston and Sam Cook. The Top 10 section also included artists Billie Holiday, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Otis Redding and Al Green.

For Mangeshkar, whose music is widely listened to in Pakistan, the magazine wrote, “The crystalline, eternally girlish voice of ‘the Melody Queen’ is a cornerstone of Indian pop music, with a global influence spread via Bollywood films, whose golden era she defined. Lata was the empress of playback singers, the vocal magicians who perform songs for actors to lip-sync in lavish movie musicals, recording over 7,000 such songs, by some estimates.” She claimed the 84th spot on the list.

Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Bob Marley, Usher, Chuck Berry, Stevie Nicks, Taylor Swift, Bono, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, João Gilberto, Billie Eilish, Rosalia, Burna Boy among others were also on the list.
Riaz Haq said…
‘Aik Hai Nigar’ wins Best Asian Film at Septimius Awards
2022 is the year for Pakistani entertainment industry and international feats. The biopic honouring the life and works of Major General Nigar Johar, the first female officer to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, won big at Amsterdam! Aik Hai Nigar, a telefilm starring Mahira Khan in the lead, has won in the category of Best Asian Film at the prestigious Septimius Awards.

Along with shedding light on Lt General Nigar’s professional achievements, Aik Hai Nigar also highlighted her personal life, a huge part of which is her husband, Johar Ali Khan, played by actor Bilal Ashraf. The film paved the way for more women climbing their ways to leadership positions in the military and otherwise.

Every year, the international film festival showcases the best independent films from around the world. It holds strong emphasis on discovering and encouraging new talent, and has a wide range of attendees which include Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winners. The category for Best Asian Film included eight films in total.

Apart from the Nina Kashif production, the nominees included Farha, a film about a 14-year-old girl in 1948 Palestine watching catastrophe consume her house from a locked cellar; 218: Behind the Wall of Silence, an Emirati film on three women sharing an apartment 218 and their tales of domestic violence, nostalgia for a lost past and the pursuit of revenge; Sermon on the Mount, a documentary on black experiences and Paka (River of Blood), an Indian malayalam drama based on a river that swells with the blood of two feuding families and a young couple that tries to overcome this hatred with their love.

The festival also featured Gensan Punch, based on a true story of a Japanese athlete, Major, a biopic on Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s fight and death during the 2008 attacks at the Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India, and Careless Crime, a film on four boys burning a theatre down in protest in Iran.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s Trailblazing Cannes Winner & International #Oscar Hopeful ‘Joyland’ Gets #US Distribution Deal. Oscilloscope is planning a traditional theatrical release for the film later this year. #Joyland #Transgender #LGBTQIA via @Deadline

After becoming the first Pakistani movie to debut at Cannes, where it was awarded the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard category, and the Queer Palm, the film made more history by becoming Pakistan’s first film to make the Academy longlist for Best International Feature.

Written and directed by Saim Sadiq, and executive-produced by Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Ramin Bahrani and Jemima Khan, the film charts the story of the youngest son in a traditional Pakistani family who takes a job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque. He quickly becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman who runs the show. Starring are Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq and Alina Khan.

Oscilloscope is planning a traditional theatrical release for the film later this year. WME Independent handled domestic rights and brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers. Film Constellation handles international sales.

The movie, which also garnered an Indie Spirit nomination, played at Toronto, Busan, London and AFI, and is set to screen at this month’s Sundance festival.

Pic is produced by Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Sabiha Sumar, Lauren Mann, Kathryn M. Moseley, Oliver Ridge, April Shih, and Katharina Otto-Bernstein. Execs also include William Olsson, Jen Goyne Blake, Tiffany Boyle, Elsa Ramo, Oleg Dubson, Kathrin Lohmann, Hari Charana Prasad, Sukanya Puvvula, and Owais Ahmed.

Filmmaker Sadiq said: “I am incredibly excited about welcoming Oscilloscope to our ever growing Joyland family and genuinely humbled by the fact that this dream that I nurtured for years is finally going to reach the audience in the U.S. My team and I have been so overwhelmed with the unending outpour of love from theatrical audiences in France and Pakistan and festival audiences worldwide that have discovered the film. So I’m very hopeful that Haider, Biba, and Mumtaz will find many friends in the States as well.”

O-Scope’s Dan Berger added: “Joyland is a daring and affecting work. In spite of all obstacles, Saim and team have created a powerful piece of art that will resonate far into the future. It is inclusive and it messages necessary things, but it is not tidy, not easy, and not obvious. It is cinema at its finest, working on numerous levels to leave people shaken and moved by the time the end credits roll.”
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani actor Sanam Saeed on Bollywood in Pakistan

Personally, I am more of a Hollywood binge watcher. But the whole of Pakistan has been raised on Bollywood, from our grandparents to us, we know Madhubala, Kareena Kapoor stuff to now Deepika. We have seen all the generations. We have literally grown-up consuming Bollywood, the song, the dance, the culture, the way they eat, the way they do pooja. Hum sab jaante hai Indian mein kya hota hai (We know what happens in India).

But India doesn’t know what happens in Pakistan. Kuch bhi nahi pata, hum log kis tarah daal chawal khaate hai, woh andaaz alag hota hai (Indian’s don’t know how we eat, how we are). The way we wear salwar kameez, tie our hair, there are these small differences. We know the difference between what an Indian choti (braid) is, but I don’t think India knows what the Pakistani choti is like. These small nuances are there. When ZEE Zindagi launched, then India saw, ‘Oh this is how they wear their clothes, this is how they interact’, how independent women are here also. That was interesting to see.


In 2022 alone, major Pakistani artistes crossed borders to create global waves. Actors Fawad Khan-Mahira Khan starrer heavy-duty actioner The Legend of Maula Jatt scripted box office history while the poignant drama Joyland found a place in Oscar’s best International Film shortlist. In music, Arooj Aftab became the first-ever Pakistani artiste to win a Grammy Award and the internet’s favourite musician Ali Sethi delivered the magnetic ‘Pasoori’– billed by many as a track which “united India and Pakistan”.

Amidst all the elation–and attention–Pakistani star Sanam Saeed feels proud of what the country has managed to achieve. One of the biggest names of the industry and a beloved name in India, thanks to her hit show Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Sanam Saeed says the Pakistani industry is currently “thriving”.

The actor’s jubilation is also backed with awards: her Zindagi original show Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam won Gold at Promax India awards 2022 and Asian Academy Creative Awards for best anthology, which she received alongside Pakistani actor Sarwat Gilani, Indian producer Shailja Kejriwal (Chief Creative Officer – Special Projects, Zee Entertainment) and British-Indian director Meenu Gaur.

In an interview with, Sanam opens up about the importance of more collaboration between India and Pakistan, how politics can fracture the beauty of art, the kind of Indian content she grew up watching and how India learnt very late–and perhaps still hasn’t, completely– what life in Pakistan is.

This was a huge win because it was a collaboration between India and Pakistan. Two similar mindsets, cultures, countries coming together to tell a universal story, made mostly by women. The fact that it came from these two nations is proof that when great minds come together, great things happen. You can achieve so much together, it’s a huge support for both team players… It was amazing, satisfying and humbling.

Does it sadden you that we don’t have more of these collaborations. Except for Zindagi, there is nothing.

Honestly, we are over it. There was a time when a lot of this would happen. We had Kara Film Festival, we had Indian actors coming to Pakistan, our actors went there, Bollywood opened the doors. It has always been a hot and cold situation. We are finally at a place where we don’t get our hopes up too high. Each party is very comfortable with where they are in terms of the work they are doing, respectively

Riaz Haq said…
2 missing teenage girls in #Pakistan who ran away to meet #BTS found by police 750 miles from home. #KPOP has a huge following in Pakistan, with fans spanning age groups and genders. #Korean #dramas are gaining popularity as well. #music #entertainment

Two teenage girls reported missing in Pakistan last week have been found more than 750 miles from home after attempting to travel to South Korea to meet K-pop super band BTS, police in the South Asian country said.

The two girls, aged 13 and 14, went missing on Saturday from Korangi in Karachi city, said Abraiz Ali Abbasi, a senior police superintendent of the area.

During a search of their homes, police found a diary that revealed their plans to travel to South Korea to meet the supergroup BTS, Abbasi said in a video statement.

“From the diary we saw mentions of train timetables and that they had been planning to run away with another friend of theirs … who we then interviewed,” Abassi said.

“We started tracking them aggressively and found out they were in custody of the police in the city of Lahore where they had traveled by train.”

Abbasi said arrangements for the girls to be taken back home to Karachi have been made in coordination with police in Lahore.

And he made an appeal for parents to “please monitor their children’s screen time,” so they’re more aware of what their children are viewing online.

“It isn’t a surprise that two teenagers took this risk because ‘stans’ are capable of doing this for their idols,” said culture journalist Rabia Mehmood, using a colloquial term for loyal fans. “But if we had more safe organized fan-girling spaces, younger fans could engage openly and freely with each other about their favorites instead of taking such risks.”

K-pop has a huge following all over the world, including Pakistan, with fans spanning age groups and genders. BTS posters and albums are sold all over the South Asian country, while Korean dramas are gaining popularity as well.

The seven-member Korean sensation BTS took a hiatus late last year, as its oldest member began mandatory military service last month. Jin, 30, started his military service on December 13, a commitment expected to last 18 months.

BTS is set to be kept apart until at least 2025 as other members of the group come of age to enter military bootcamps. The band has said they will use this time to pursue solo projects.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan and #Bollywood: A broken bond. Bollywood is now far too often a mouthpiece for #Modi's #BJP and its idea of #India. The Indian film industry’s lurch to the right has done what wars couldn’t — alienated millions of Pakistani fans. via @AJEnglish

By Salman Zafar
Writer based in Vancouver, Canada

Muslim characters are either nonexistent in Bollywood films or are used to fan stereotypes of the community as villains or as closet Pakistan sympathisers.

Meanwhile, many leading figures within Bollywood have become enthusiastic cheerleaders of this toxicity. There are over-the-top supporters of the BJP government, such as Anupam Kher, Kangana Ranaut and Akshay Kumar. Actor Vivek Oberoi released a thinly veiled promotional movie on the life of Modi in 2019 to coincide with the general elections that year.

At the same time, Pakistani actors and actresses have effectively been banned from the industry. Raees in 2017, featuring Mahira Khan opposite Shah Rukh, was the last major Bollywood movie to feature someone from Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistani movies face hurdles in being released in India. The Legend of Maula Jutt, already considered one of the biggest movies in Pakistan’s history, was set for a December 30, 2022 release in India, only for that to be postponed indefinitely.


Unlike a lot of other Pakistanis, my interest in Bollywood developed much later in life. I was already in my late 20s when I took the time to watch a complete Bollywood movie. I initially watched Bollywood for the melodies of the master Indian playback singers from yesteryear, such as the great Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi and Mukesh.

That morphed into an interest in old Bollywood movies — from the golden and classic ages of the industry, spanning a period from the late 1940s through the 80s. Watching these films was a regular weekend night affair for me.

This Bollywood was a melting pot of riveting stories and even better acting. Awaara (1951) carried socialist themes and became wildly popular in China and the former Soviet Union as well. The 1960s and 1970s had trend-setting movies such as the iconic Mughal-e-Azam and Ganga Jumna. Movies such as Kaala Pathar, Zanjeer and Deewar had superstar Amitabh Bachchan in his genre-defining angry young man persona, providing poignant commentary on the disillusionment within Indian society over corruption and inequality. Values — not wealth — were the virtues to aspire to. Then there was Mandi, which touched on themes of prostitution, offering biting political satire.

As the years passed by, Bollywood movies became more extravagant, reliant on glitz and glamour, exotic foreign locations and bombastic dance numbers. Stories revolving around average working-class issues are few and far between.

But with the rise of current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), I have noticed another more sinister shift in storytelling towards the right.

From an industry that celebrated religious tolerance in films such as the cult classic Amar Akbar Anthony — where the three heroes are Hindu, Muslim and Christian — mainstream Bollywood is now far too often a mouthpiece for the BJP and its idea of India. The secular ideals of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, are dead. The narrative is simple – India is Hindu, and other religions are foreign and responsible for the ravages suffered by the motherland.

This vision of India reflects in society and in Bollywood.

Moviemakers who do not subscribe to the narrative of this muscular, uber-nationalist Hindu India are at the receiving end of vicious criticism from the BJP’s support base. Actors Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan raised concerns over growing intolerance in India in 2015. Since then, there are regular calls for their movies to be boycotted.
Riaz Haq said…
NYTimes: Move Over Moses and Zoroaster: Manhattan Has a New Female Lawgiver
Move Over Moses and Zoroaster: Manhattan Has a New Female Lawgiver

Shahzia Sikander, 53, the paradigm-busting Pakistani American artist behind the work, said the sculpture was part of an urgent and necessary cultural reckoning underway as New York, along with cities across the world, reconsiders traditional representations of power in public spaces and recasts civic structures to better reflect 21st-century social mores.
Riaz Haq said…
Karachi-born Asma Naeem to be the head of the Baltimore Museum of Art

Baltimore Museum of Art Taps Its Chief Curator as Its Next Director

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced Tuesday that Asma Naeem, its chief curator since 2018 and interim co-director, will become director effective Feb. 1.

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in Baltimore, Naeem practiced law for almost 15 years before switching careers and finishing her Ph.D. in American art. She becomes the first person of color to lead the museum, founded in 1914, and will oversee its collection of more than 97,000 objects and an annual operating budget of $23 million.

Naeem, 53, has been interim co-director of the museum since Christopher Bedford, the former director, left last June for the top post at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Naeem had a central role in shaping and implementing the Baltimore Museum’s strategic plan, adopted in 2018, that placed social equity alongside artistic excellence as a core principle guiding the museum’s mission. Since then, the B.M.A., as it is known locally, has been at the forefront of efforts to acquire and exhibit work by underrepresented artists and to diversify its staff, board and audiences — issues being addressed by museums nationwide to varying degrees.

“We were most impressed with how Asma has been part of the work and with her vision for the institution, in terms of how to build on this work and take us to that next level,” said James D. Thornton, chairman of the museum’s board, which promoted Naeem after a 10-month national search.
Riaz Haq said…
Shahzia Sikander, 53, the paradigm-busting Pakistani American artist behind the work, said the sculpture was part of an urgent and necessary cultural reckoning underway as New York, along with cities across the world, reconsiders traditional representations of power in public spaces and recasts civic structures to better reflect 21st-century social

Move Over Moses and Zoroaster: Manhattan Has a New Female Lawgiver

The Lahore-born Sikander, whose work has been displayed at the Whitney Biennial and who made her name reimagining the art of Indo-Persian miniature painting from a feminist, post-colonial perspective, was at pains to emphasize that Muhammad’s removal and her installation were completely unrelated. “My figure is not replacing anyone or canceling anyone,” she said.

Much as Justice Ginsburg wore her lace collar to recast a historically male uniform and proudly reclaim it for her gender, Sikander said her stylized sculpture was aimed at feminizing a building that was commissioned in 1896. Writing in The New Yorker in 1928, the architect and author George S. Chappell called the rooftop ring of male figures atop the building a “ridiculous adornment of mortuary statuary.”

The aesthetic merits of the courthouse’s sumptuous Beaux-Arts-style architecture aside, the building’s symbolism has outsize importance in New York’s civic and legal identity and beyond: The court hears appeals from all the trial courts in Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as some of the most important appeals in the country.
Riaz Haq said…
#Bollywood is obsessed with #Pakistan. Even though #China has taken without too much of a struggle 38,000 sq km of land in #Ladakh, on which they are building homes & bridges, you won’t find any Bollywood films with #Chinese #villains. #Modi #Islamophobia

Try as the industry might, Modi’s quasi-fascist politics cannot be set to jaunty music and helicopter stunts

Pathaan’s plot is nonsensical, and no one wears many clothes as they dance in bikinis and shorts trying to save India and therefore the world. It is naturally unconcerned with facts – article 370 was the instrument that allowed Kashmir’s ascension into the Indian union; if it is declared null and void, then so too is Kashmir’s ascension to India, but why bother with facts or what any actual Kashmiris think or feel? There aren’t any in this insipid film anyway.

I interviewed Khan, or SRK, as he is known to his hundreds of million fans around the world, for a book five years ago and noticed even then that he straddles an uncomfortable role as the ever grateful Muslim who is really, really, really Indian. As India embraces the Hindu majoritarian politics of its ruling BJP party, high-profile Muslim figures like Khan are increasingly seen as fifth columnists. Trolls and angry protesters often beseech Muslim stars to “go back to Pakistan”, though they have no roots there. Today in India, anyone who questions the government or dissents from popular discourse is slandered as “anti-national” and told to go live in Pakistan.


If recent Bollywood films are any indication, it is fair to say that India’s film industry is obsessed with Pakistan. Obsessed. Like standing outside your apartment and trying to peek through your windows at night with binoculars obsessed.

If the films were smarter or more daring, Pakistan might be flattered. Instead, we are beginning to be mildly confused by all the attention.

Even though our common neighbour China has taken – without too much of a struggle and aided by a helpful press blackout in India – 38,000 sq km of Indian land in Ladakh, on which they are building homes and bridges, you won’t find any Bollywood films with Chinese villains or bad guys.

No, all the nasties in Indian cinema are Pakistanis, usually wearing military uniforms, and always Muslim.

Bollywood has always reflected Indian political trends; the films of the 1950s mirrored the optimism and romance of the newly independent country, the 1970s hero was a proud but disenfranchised man fighting against the powerful and corrupt. In the 1990s, there were endless films about neo-liberal yuppies who worked in Dubai, danced in London discos and drove shiny Mercedes. Since Narendra Modi and his rightwing party, the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, came to power nearly nine years ago, Bollywood has readily embraced his menacing politics.

In 2018, the starlet Alia Bhatt headlined Raazi, a film about a woman who marries a Pakistani army officer in order to spy on the country during the 1971 war with India. In 2019, Bollywood released Uri, a military flick about Indian special forces launching a “surgical strike” on Pakistan after a supposed terror attack. Though Uri was based on a real incident that nearly brought two nuclear-armed states to war, it played fast and loose with the facts.

All this is especially unpleasant as Pakistanis have traditionally been enthusiastic audiences for Bollywood – the industry brought us songs and fun and the profound knowledge that our neighbours look and live just like us, demonstrating the incredible power of culture done right.

Riaz Haq said…
Asia Pacific outlook: Surge in data centers

According to Cushman & Wakefield, the Asia Pacific data center market is poised to become the world’s largest data center region over the next decade. In a 2022 report, Singapore takes the top data center spot in the Asia Pacific, and the second place globally – tying with Silicon Valley after Virginia. In the region, Hong Kong claims the second spot, Sydney comes in third place, while Shanghai maintains fourth place.

The surge in data center activities is led by colocation providers including AWS, Microsoft, Tencent and Alibaba. Research firm Report Linker revealed that investments into the region’s data center market amounted to US$63.15 billion last year, with investments predicted to reach US$94 billion by 2027.

Data center markets at a glance
The largest data center market in the region, Singapore lifted a moratorium on new data center construction in January 2022. The moratorium was first implemented in 2019 to allow new server facilities that meet energy efficiency criteria to be constructed. As of last year, Singapore had more than 70 data centers operating with a total power capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

For telecom operators, where data centers are becoming a strategic asset, many are deliberating data center partnerships or sell-offs to cash in. Last November, Globe Telecom was in advanced talks with ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT GDC) to establish a data center business in the Philippines.

To optimize and grow the value of its large and unique portfolio of quality infrastructure assets, Singtel outlined plans to create a regional data center business last year. Through a partnership with Thailand’s Gulf Energy and AIS, Singtel’s regional data center strategy aims to offer customers a differentiated value proposition.

The global pandemic sparked work-from-home arrangements and a spike in digital infrastructure and cloud demand. Hyperscalers are amongst those pressured to increase data centers. Compounded by the acceleration of 5G deployments and resulting technologies, strategic investments into data centers have been on the rise. New sources of funding from private equity funds also contribute to the growing data center market to capitalize on future growth opportunities.

Datacenterpricing, a data centre research specialist, estimated over 1.5 million square meters of space under development for data centres in the Asia Pacific.

A recent high-profile investment is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)’s US$150 million into data centers serving emerging countries in the Asia Pacific. Of which US$100 million would be channeled through Keppel’s Keppel Data Centre Fund II (KDC Fund II), which closed with US$1.1 billion in funding commitments.

After the US, China has the second-largest hyperscaler data center capacity, accounting for 15% of the world’s total. According to Datacenterpricing, China will expand its data center market by 239,000 square meters to represent a 14% growth. Without overloading its power grids, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced the set-up of four mega data center clusters outside the main population epicenters.

South Korea is also a hotspot for data centers. In January, Equinix and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC will jointly develop and operate two xScale data centers in Seoul, South Korea. Digital Realty will also be launching its first carrier-neutral data center in the capital to scale large enterprise applications.

Emerging data center markets
With many countries in the region still underserved, Asia Pacific will continue to witness unprecedented growth in the data centers, fuelled by increased digitalization and e-commerce.
Riaz Haq said…
Asia Pacific outlook: Surge in data centers

Emerging data center markets
With many countries in the region still underserved, Asia Pacific will continue to witness unprecedented growth in the data centers, fuelled by increased digitalization and e-commerce.

Indonesia, for instance, offers immense opportunities with a digital economy projected to be worth US$124 billion by 2025. The country houses more than 200 million internet users and an e-commerce market expected to reach US$100 billion by 2025. Last May, Singapore-headquartered STT GDC entered into a partnership with Indonesian Triputra Group to develop a new data center operating platform in Jakarta. Tencent Cloud built two data center facilities in the country.

Alibaba Cloud also built its third data center in Indonesia last year. In the Philippines, Alibaba Cloud built its first data center last year to support businesses’ digitalization. This year, Alibaba has plans to debut centers in Thailand to expand its foothold in the region – a key profit driver which accounts for about 8% of the company’s total revenue, and amid greater competition by Tencent in China.

In one of the latest, SpaceDC partners with JLL to build the largest data center in the Philippines. India, being the second most populous country in the world, is another country with very high population, but with a very low data center capacity. The current data traffic boom in India makes it another high-growth market for data centers. According to reports, Bharti Airtel plans to triple its data center capacity to 400 megawatt by 2025.

Data centers demand is here to stay. As some telecom operators rethink their strategy for non-core operations, others view the data center business as a worthwhile investment. With the emergence of 5G and accompanying technology, telecom operators are well-positioned to seize opportunities working with, rather than against hyperscale providers to extend their capabilities to the network edge

Riaz Haq said…
Scams Are Ruining Pakistan’s Digital Economy
Ecommerce is booming, but as one gaming group found out, there are few protections for buyers.

IT TOOK SAMAIN Abid, 26, nearly two years to scrape together the 120,000 rupees ($454) he needed to buy a PlayStation 5. Before he bought it, he combed through reviews and asked friends for advice. Finally, in January last year, he placed an order with ZipTech, a gaming equipment company that had by then become the supplier of choice for Pakistan’s gamers.

The company’s appeal was clear. It was cheaper than the competition, offering longer delivery times in exchange for below-market prices on imported goods. It also came highly recommended in the Facebook groups that make up the core of Pakistan’s ecommerce industry. It even had a celebrity endorsement from Junaid Akram, a comedian and streamer with more than 924,000 subscribers on YouTube. And finally, it had a charismatic owner, Muhammad Hassan, known in the community as Major Zippy.

But a year after he ordered it, Abid’s PlayStation still hasn’t arrived. At least 260 people, according to a spreadsheet circulating in the Pakistani PC Gamers group, claim to have been scammed by ZipTech, to a total of 67 million rupees—around $290,000. Zippy, too, has disappeared. Calls to Major Zippy’s cell phone went unanswered, as did emailed requests for comment. “It was a huge betrayal,” Abid says. “He gave us hope and then took it away.”


“A large percentage of merchants prefer to stay in the gray economy and not come into the tax net and so they don’t adopt online payment options,” says Misbah Naqvi, cofounder of i2i Ventures, a VC firm investing in early-stage startups in Pakistan. “This impacts the growth of the ecommerce ecosystem in Pakistan.”

During the pandemic, a lot of sellers did move online, but they often did so on social media and messaging platforms, arranging deals directly with customers. Facebook groups such as Packr, for instance, began to thrive when the country placed an import ban on luxury items in May 2022, allowing customers to sidestep hefty customs and import duties by getting imported products shipped to their doorstep via passengers returning from abroad.

This has meant that Facebook communities have an outsize influence on how people buy online in Pakistan, and who they buy from.


Whatever the resolution to the legal case, Major Zippy has wrecked the community he was once a part of. “There is a trust deficit now, between sellers and buyers,” Khan says. “If you’re not doing a face-to-face deal, no one trusts you. On the whole, this fiasco has cost the gaming community a lot. Irreparable damage.”

Riaz Haq said…
Spotify Turns Up the Volume in Pakistan With Events and Music Campaigns

Two years ago, we introduced Spotify to listeners in Pakistan. Since the launch, we’ve worked with the country’s artists to expand their reach and share their music with new fans worldwide—and now we’re taking things to a new level.

March marked the first anniversary of our EQUAL women’s empowerment program in Pakistan, with singer Tina Sani as the Ambassador of the Month. RADAR, which highlights emerging artists from all around the world, also recently made its debut in Pakistan, featuring Taha G up first. He’s at the top of the RADAR Pakistan playlist, and Spotify worked with the singer to create a mini-documentary that spotlights his life and career.

In addition to bringing these programs to the region, we’re finding unique ways—from Masterclasses to cricket campaigns to local playlists—to connect with artists.

Lending artists support with a Masterclass in Lahore
Our music industry experts were ready to share their knowledge during a Spotify for Artists Masterclass event in Lahore, PK. “We hosted at the historical Haveli Barood Khana mansion, and used this opportunity to educate and share information on music streaming trends and new product features with the burgeoning music industry in the region,” shared Khan FM, Artist and Label Partnerships Manager for Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Renowned Coke Studio music producer, curator and artist Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan shared his perspective on the Pakistani music industry with an audience that included more than 150 artists and their teams.

Spotify gets in the cricket spirit
“Cricket is huge in Pakistan, and Spotify highlighted the nation’s love for the game by launching a cricket marketing campaign and digging into the data* of the popular Cricket Fever playlist,” shared Talha Hashim, Marketing Manager for Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The curated collection has seen a staggering 611% increase in streams since the beginning of Pakistan Super League 08 (PSL) this year. Among other trends, we noticed:

Karachi is the top city streaming the playlist.
Tuesdays and evenings are when the playlist sees the most streams.
Top songs include “Groove Mera – Pakistan Super League” by Aima Baig, Naseebo Lal, and Young Stunners and “Agay Dekh (Pakistan Super League)” by Atif Aslam and Aima Baig.

Celebrating local artists with Pakka Hit Hai
The Pakka Hit Hai playlist is the go-to Spotify destination for Pakistan’s top hits. “The playlist first launched in 2022 and has seen incredible growth and popularity since its inception. To celebrate, Spotify partnered with COLABS for a concert series called Pakka Hit Hai Live,” said Rutaba Yaqub, Senior Editor for Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The first show featured Fresh Finds success Abdul Hannan and Taha G, two of the best-performing artists on the playlist. Bringing the playlist to more fans through live events is one way we’re expanding its reach.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani singer Ali Sethi wows Coachella crowd with Pasoori

The Punjabi track was 2022’s most-searched song on Google and has surpassed half a billion views on YouTube.

A tale of forbidden love with an infectious hook, Ali Sethi’s song Pasoori has become an international phenomenon, fusing poetic tradition with global beats to fuel the rise of the Pakistani singer’s star.

The Punjabi track whose title roughly translates to “difficult mess” was 2022’s most-searched song on Google and has surpassed half a billion views on YouTube, offering a melodic metaphor for conflict between India and Pakistan in the form of an impassioned love song with an eminently danceable flow.

The song’s origins stem from when Sethi was asked to pen a song for the popular Pakistani television programme Coke Studio, which occurred just after an experience where an Indian broadcaster had pulled out of a creative partnership because the 38-year-old is Pakistani.

“You’re a Pakistani, and India and Pakistan are at war, and now we can’t really put up a billboard saying we are working with you because extremists will set fire to our building,” the singer recalls being told.

“As a Pakistani, I have grown up with that… ‘Oh you can’t do this because it’s prohibited, yada yada.'”

‘All true love is prohibited’
The experience got his creative wheels turning. “Of course, the theme of prohibition is such an eternal theme in South Asian love songs – all true love is prohibited,” he told the AFP news agency following an electrifying party of a performance on Sunday at the Coachella music festival in the United States, a cherry on top of his remarkable year.

“So I wanted to write a song that was sort of a flower bomb hurled at nationalism and heteropatriarchy,” Sethi continued, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and black button-up with colourful embroidery alluding to styles of the American southwest. “With all the fun innuendos and all this camp energy.”

Sethi says he drew on Punjabi folk songs of his youth, imbuing the lyrics with puns and double entendres, “a nice way to slip in and subvert orthodox views without really appearing to be out beyond the veil”.

He performs the track with Shae Gill, a singer born to a Christian family in Lahore.

Sethi was “astounded” by the global response to the song, which has the improvisational framework of a traditional South Asian “raga” mixed with the region’s contemporary sounds, along with Turkish strings, flamenco-style claps and the four-four Latino reggaeton beats keeping rhythm for much of today’s reigning pop.

Popular posts from this blog

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce

Project Azm: Pakistan to Develop 5th Generation Fighter Plane

Pakistan's Saadia Zahidi Leads World Economic Forum's Gender Parity Effort