PESHAWAR: “I fear people will kill me,” says Nasir Khanjan, a rising social media sensation who thinks he is being targeted by the society for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Khanjan, who hails from the largely conservative mountainous region of Lower Dir in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), has been ridiculed and even abused for posting ‘funny’ videos which he believes are “not against the cultural norms and traditions of the Pashtun society”.
The 30-year-old, a university graduate, said his inability to land a job forced him to turn to social media to eke out a living. “I tried at various places. I was even called for interviews but ended up being rejected every single time,” Khanjan told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview.
“I created a Facebook page last year and made videos based on funny content, health tips and information about my native region to entertain over 48,000 followers,” he revealed. However, using social media to make a living in a conservative society comes with a heavy cost, he lamented.
Khanjan said he keeps receiving threats and abusive comments from local people who think the social media ‘star’ “is bringing shame to their area”. The aspiring actor was reportedly attacked by some local villagers averse to his social media presence recently. “I was hospitalised and treated for head injuries while an FIR was lodged at a nearby police station,” he said.
However, the attack has not left Khanjan dejected, who said he was only worried about the sufferings of his family. His father, a doctor by profession, died years ago while his mother and an elder brother are retired government servants.
“All my family members have at least completed matriculation. All my sisters are graduates and happily married,” he said. Khanjan added he had always wanted to earn a living for himself. The youngest of twelve siblings, including eight sisters and four brothers, he is about to complete a master’s programme from a government-run college in international relations, he disclosed.
His followers tend to be divided among those who unashamedly ridicule him and those who unflinchingly support him. Of them, some even “shoot videos” to express their support.
“People abuse me in comments but still there are many who come up in my support,” he says. “They are available on my timeline.”
Divulging the details of his earnings through social media, Khanjan said he made videos for various Facebook pages which brought them a lot of followers.
Besides this, Khanjan claimed some of his followers also have him make videos on special occasions. “I earn over Rs20,000 from the videos I make,” he said. “It is enough to lead a normal life and meet my expenses.”
Response to haters
Despite receiving numerous offensive comments on his posts, the ambitious actor remains unnerved by hostility. “I receive a positive response from those who get entertained by my videos and always ask for such stuff,” he said.
“Girls are more supportive than boys,” he said, adding that many considered him transgender. “But I am not.” Khanjan said he respected the community, positing that it was often abused by the society.
Talking about his family, Khanjan said his family had initially supported him but had warned him against posting stuff on social media in the wake of the attack. “My family did not stop me from using social media to earn money. It is the society that neither gives me a job nor allows me to run my business, he bemoaned.
An indomitable Khanjan plans to continue working till he lands his “dream job” of an anchor.