Jawad Ahmed pays tribute to victims of Baldia factory fire

Published: January 22, 2013
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With Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon, the singer hopes to draw attention to Pakistan’s labour laws.

With Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon, the singer hopes to draw attention to Pakistan’s labour laws.

With Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon, the singer hopes to draw attention to Pakistan’s labour laws. With Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon, the singer hopes to draw attention to Pakistan’s labour laws.
LAHORE: 

Singer Jawad Ahmed is all set to make a comeback with his single Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon, a tribute to the victims of a fire that engulfed Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town and claimed over 200 lives on September 11, 2012.

Ahmed first became popular when the release of his single Allah Meray Dil Ke Andar, a song that talks about the transcendental existence of God. Listeners appreciated the catchy tune and quick rhythm, along with its message of inner peace. After appealing to his audience’s spiritual side, Ahmed is now trying to connect with a wider audience through Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon. The new track is part of his initiative to create awareness about labour laws in Pakistan. It seems that Ahmed is leveraging his popularity to create social awareness and consciousness; if you ever see him out in public, you’ll notice that a crowd is usually following.

“People had said that the Baldia fire tragedy was a serious issue,” says Ahmed. “But the masses did not understand why.” He further added, “There are really no labour rights in this country. For me, this is important, because I am part of the working class and my efforts will now highlight the struggle of peasants and workers.”

At a press conference to announce his concert in December, he described Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon as a song that dedicated to the Baldia factory workers as “change can never come until they realise it’s importance.” At the concert organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), the stage was simple; but large images of rescue teams combing through the factory debris, as well as those of burn victims being treated at hospitals loomed in the background. Men and women who lost their family members in the fire gathered to remember their loved ones; as they held up photographs of young men who perished, women cried and clutched their shawls to their faces. The video of Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon was filmed during the concert, and is scheduled for release in February.

“We invited the victims for a concert because we wanted to capture pure emotions which people could feel when hearing the lyrics of the song,” says Ahmed. “These lyrics convey that pain of these victims; they describe the misery and death… the helplessness of these workers.”

“When I heard the stories of children, sisters, brothers and fathers dying, I got such a weird feeling. I sat down and penned this song within an hour,” he says.

baldi factory-photo-publicity

The video will also feature the families of the men who lost their lives in the fire. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Reaching out

“Music for the underprivileged in Pakistan was only available through PTV,” says Ahmed.

“But since that has become a commercial institution, music for the less privileged is not available.”

He also laments that Bollywood music is accessible while our content is for a niche market. “Indian music is for everyone, but Pakistani music is now elitist. It is only available for a certain group of people,” he says.

Ahmed blames the structure of the music industry and the trend of releasing tracks online for the limited availability of music; he feels that while the urban population can listen to music online, the common man is estranged. This development has changed the scenario from what it used to be a decade ago when Ahmed burst onto the scene with Bol Tujhay Kya Chahiye.

Apart from his awareness campaign, Ahmed says he intends to continue to produce commercial music. His next 10-track album will be released on March 23 in Pakistan and India.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Rizwana
    Jan 23, 2013 - 10:17AM

    Recently, the burning of hundreds of workers in huge fires should jolt the country out of its lethargy. Labor rights that the Jawad sings about are not trivial and can’t be ignored as its been a norm before. Other celebrities should also participate in this awakening. The writer has done a great job of capturing the essence of workers’ plight as important element in Pakistan’s survival .

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  • S A
    Jan 23, 2013 - 2:37PM

    it is truly very sad
    that the tragic factory inccident has been totally forgotten, kudos! to Jawad Ahmed for shedding light on the importance of labour laws. Sadly nobody seems to care that hundreds perished in this fire and their families are still in mourning…..as expected the culprits are still at large and families r seeking justice till this day.Labour rights for the working class are essential by no means should they be ignored, these lives were certainly not cheap.

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  • Hajra
    Jan 23, 2013 - 4:55PM

    Please stop for God’s sake! This is a ridicolous way to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in an incident. As a Muslim, we should pray for their forgiveness and May Allah bless them a place in Jannat ul Firdous. ‘Aameen’.

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