Political songs in Pakistan are iconic. From Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “Hum Dekheinge” to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s “Saathi”, the lyrics to the songs chosen by political parties are as familiar as the politicians themselves.
For the soundtrack of the documentary Bhutto, which released in Pakistan on Friday, Benazir Bhutto’s daughter Bakhtawar teamed up with Stewart Copeland to rework the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) iconic song “Dila Teer Bija”. Copeland is the ex-drummer for The Police.
The reworked version, approximately 10 minutes long, is a darker, thumping version than the original. It’s a remix, so it features the same familiar lyrics, ‘Jiye Bhutto’ chants and the folk beat, but it also includes Bakhtawar rapping on the song.
Bakhtawar raps about her mother “No words to describe you / There’s nobody like you / my mother’s so vital” and cites how she was an inspiration. Bakhtawar raps that her mother “taught her how to behave / how to get better grades” and how her “body still shakes” when she thinks of her mother’s death. The rap ends with the chorus of “who could have ever thought?”
The song plays in the closing credits of the documentary and minus the rap, it is a groovy, catchy song. With the rap – delivered in an unnecessarily angst-ridden manner – it is jarring and more reminiscent of a gangster rap song than a political anthem.
Bakhtawar’s first rap song about her mother, “I Would Take the Pain Away”, made headlines worldwide.
It was played on Pakistan Television and then-Information Minister Sherry Rehman told Reuters, “It is a tribute of a grieving daughter to her iconic and loving mother.”
Pakistani political parties have dozens of songs associated with them. Cassettes and CDs with the anthems of political parties sell in scores during election season, and there are hundreds of videos on YouTube available of the same.
In 2008, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) roped in Abrarul Haq for their election campaign song. Haq reworked his “Aaja Te Beja Cycle Tay” to make it “Thappa Laga Cycle Tay”. The cycle was the election symbol for the party.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 12th, 2010.