Over the past few years, the increasing trend of suicide attacks across Pakistan have made headlines globally and it was only a matter of time until these episodes were expressed through song. After all, artists are inspired by their surroundings so it shouldn’t come as a shock when one goes on YouTube and sees that this notion has made an entry into Pashto pop culture.
Pashto singer Sitara Younas recently released a song, “Khud Kasha Dhamaka Yama”, which has become quite popular and is making rounds on the internet. The lyrics of the song are catchy, “Don’t chase me, I am an illusion, I am a suicide blast.”
At least three versions of “Khud Kasha Dhamaka Yama” are available on the video-sharing site Youtube. One of the videos has over 40,710 views, while the other one has 18,237 views.
However, many of those who have left comments on the site do not seem happy with the lyrics of Younas’ new song. “If this is the mentality, I think, we cannot improve our nature in the coming 50 years,” comments Sam, a viewer, adding, “try to do something new, not suicide attacks.” However, another viewer comments that he has watched the video of the song 100 times and loves it.
Renowned Pashto lyricist Rais Khan Sehrai told The Express Tribune that “Khud Kasha Dhamaka Yama” was written by lyricist Rashid Johar and it was composed by Pashto music director Shakir Zeb. Sehrai said that Shakir Zeb refused to compose this song initially; however, an anonymous influential figure of the Pashto film industry pressurised Zeb to work on the controversial song.
Sehrai also added that he believes it is not appropriate to release such songs and artists have a certain responsibility towards society to project a positive image. “This song has been quite popular after its release,” but then again it is always the “wrong things which become popular with the public”. Sehrai elucidated that such songs impact society in an adverse way and it is risky to release songs like this.
Pashto poet and senior journalist Farooq Firaq is of the opinion that Pashto or any other language’s literature can be classified into classic and popular. “There may be many other poets during the times of Rehman Baba and Khushal Khan Khattak; however, no one knows about them,” he said, adding that this song is a part of popular culture.
One of the reasons for such songs being released is that when the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) closed down the Nishtar Hall in Peshawar, several artists associated with the theatre became unemployed. Hence these artists tried their luck in Pashto CD dramas and telefilms, which emerged as a parallel industry — unregulated and often glorifying violence. Firaq argues that the advent of telefilms and soaps on CDs without any censor board has resulted in the release of such songs which glorify violence.
Firaq adds that suicide attacks have left deep imprints on our society and that such songs are a result of overall negativity in society and proposes establishing a censor board — comprising of actors, writers and elders — to oversee and filter such content.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2011.