Aisee zameen aur aasmaan
Songs aren’t angry op-eds, or critical talk shows. They are unapologetically, feel good. Invest in some singing.
Happy birthday, Pakistan. I hope you have good one. I hope the next 64 years of your life are completely uneventful and trust me when I say you need the rest. I thank you, I love you, I’ll get some schoolchildren to wave flags, look, what else do you expect me to say that hasn’t already been said by Ufone, Telenor, Habib Bank or Dalda oil?
Well, I could sing to you instead.
Singing translates to waking up at 7 am to belt out that national anthem, day in day out, all year long. It means staying back after school practising ‘Yeh Watan’ for the annual celebration (In tune, in tune! And remember ‘Paasban’ is silent at the end...all together now!).
It means calling up people on August 14 and singing the first few lines of Jazba-e-Junoon instead of the standard hello. It also means dragging out old grainy 1950s songs from YouTube and uploading them on Facebook for people to comment ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘What a cute Pak song!’
August 14 is the one day in the calendar where my grandmother, my parents and I have the same musical preferences. You could have Taylor Swift posters in your room, or think that Atif Aslam is the most amazing thing since sliced bread, but come ‘Chauda Agust’ and everyone bursts into Dil Dil Pakistan.
‘Aisee zameen aur asmaan’ never looked this good.
What is it about patriotic songs? Why is it that every mainstream artist feels the need to record at least one song with a distinct green feel to it? Countries can have one, maybe two, patriotic songs. Google Pakistani patriotic songs however, and the first link takes you off to a website featuring the best 170 Pakistan songs - as if to say there might be more, but for now you’ll have to work with these.
You could wear a Pagri and turn folk artist, meddle in ‘Itnay baray Jeevan mein’. Pretend its wartime and sing ‘Aey Watan Kay Sajeelay Jawano’.
Turn back time into the land of synthesizers and Raybans and belt out Dil Dil Pakistan. Pick up a cricket bat and scream for sixes and fours to the sounds of ‘aay oh aay oh aay oh aaa’. Patriotic songs have transcended the structure of the modern music industry - they are the music industry.
You have the air force praising songs ‘Tum hi say Hai Mujahido’, the recent wave of sport related ‘Aisee ki Taise’, and songs aimed for the youth, ‘Suno kay mein hoo Jawan’.
Even a video of that one guy strumming the national anthem on his electric guitar attracts comments like ‘Tum nay Pakistan ka naam roshan kiya hai’ and ‘Zabardast...Pakistanis are so cool’
And then it hits you: the reason songs like these are so popular because they are the one completely, unapologetically, feel good items of August 14. As much as everyone ooohs and aahhs at clips of the Indo-Pak border and spends a fortune on roadside stalls covered in green, there are always those eternal pessimists who crop up through the cracks. You know the type:
“Despite the corruption, terrorism, vandalism, load shedding (continue listing apparent vices of Pakistan) I still love Pakistan.”
Well if you do, why bring it up today, of all days?
Self reflection is essential for any functioning country, but this is self reflection to the point of self flaggation. And that’s still at an individual level: how about yesterday’s talk show “Pakistan Zindabad, or Pakistan say zinda bhaag?”
Is that really necessary the day before our independence day?
But songs don’t succumb to that kind of pressure. Songs aren’t angry op-eds, or critical talk shows. It’s a love for the country that can’t be criticized or ridiculed, at a time where speaking positive is suddenly out of fashion. Because patriotic songs more than anything, are good old fashioned, pure and simple, pride.
And you can’t argue with that.
It’s the national birthday, and fevers will run high. Lots of talk about terrorists gate crashing the party and presents being robbed. Invest in some singing instead.