Junaid Jamshed is Pakistan: Absurdly talented yet seriously flawed
Capping off a year already filled with terrible news was yesterday’s tragic incident. A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral, killing 48 people on board and leaving the country in shock.
To start with, the pain being faced by the families of these lost 48 lives must be incalculable. To lose a loved one so abruptly without closure is a terrible ordeal. At the very least, the loved ones should be provided with grief-counselling by the government at the earliest, though the chances of this happening are low.
There must also be questions asked about PIA, a bloated organisation that has limped along for years with dozens of national and international incidents of corruption and misconduct. I myself have flown on PIA flights that were delayed, worryingly enough, because of mechanical issues. A thorough investigation must be conducted.
Pilot error should be forgiven – we are all prone to mistakes – but negligence, especially in the shape of avoidable problems must be tackled. Unfortunately, there is little hope in this regard. PIA has often reacted to attempts at accountability or reform with vicious backlash.
PIA Chairman Muhammad Azam Saigol was quick to take away blame from the airline stating,
“I think there was no technical error or human error.”
It seems strange to reach a conclusion so quickly without a proper investigation.
On the other hand, take for example the moment when a ferry sank in South Korea and those involved were taken into custody. What’s more is that Prime Minster Chung Hong-won made a symbolic gesture and stepped down. Here, PIA will not even account for its large workforce or the scams they are involved in.
This aside, the most talked-about loss from the incident was pop-star turned evangelist, Junaid Jamshed, a casualty we will not be able to come to terms with for some time.
Turning to Twitter for reactions, I was troubled by responses from some of the most followed Twitteraties in Pakistan. I am not going to name anyone, but the very pundits who had rightly taken Junaid Jamshed to task for blatantly misogynist views, preaching sexism to his countless impressionable followers, not standing up for minorities, painting Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife, Hazrat Aisha (RA) as an overly emotional woman close to breakdown, were now hypocritically eulogising him as a saint.
Some of these very people praised him as an Islamic preacher about to enter the gates of heaven, overlooking the very flaws they had chastised him for. Perhaps his sudden death had reminded them of their own mortality, or perhaps all it takes in Pakistan to be considered a pious person is the attire and facial hair of a holy man.
No one should celebrate the man’s death, but we shouldn’t whitewash him either, for views without nuance serve no one.
For me, JJ epitomised the nature of the country. Yes, Junaid Jamshed was Pakistan; absurdly talented yet seriously flawed. In fact, if you look at his life, it mirrored Pakistan’s metamorphosis in character. Like Pakistan, which went from a more liberal country to one still coming to terms with stringent ideology, he was once a magnificent pop star who stood tall during Ziaul Haq’s conservative era, redefining Pakistan’s music scene, until he found more interest in scripture.
It would be no exaggeration to say that JJ had the same impact on our local music scene that someone like the King of Pop had on the rest of the world. It would be no exaggeration to say that ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ has been a strand of optimism for many a Pakistani.
But like his country, the artist slowly shifted towards a more conservative mindset. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing had he not adopted views on women from the last century. To make matters worse, and again like Pakistan, Junaid Jamshed carried an essence of hypocrisy, often shot mingling in close proximity with his female friends while preaching otherwise to his impressionable followers.
There is also another dimension to Junaid Jamshed, an aspect few knew of, and that’s his work for charitable causes. Both nationally and intentionally, the man worked with numerous charities working towards maternal health and positively impacting the lives of underprivileged women in Pakistan. Again, like the country, under the complex exterior some benevolence could be found.
I, too, mourn the loss of Junaid Jamshed. I mourn the death of the wonderful musician he once was, giving melody to our souls, though perhaps that Junaid Jamshed passed away a long time ago. The new Junaid Jamshed was a contradictory man, as paradoxical as Pakistan itself.
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