Two weeks of free nightly ‘concerts’ have turned the capital into a musical oasis, limited only by the narrow scope of subject matter provided to lyricists.
Though some residents may complain, the fact that a petition challenging the concerts — filed by a Lal Masjid-affiliated group — was recently thrown out for being frivolous, means that the concerts will likely stay as long as the master of ceremony (MC) keeps the party going.
In line with the MC’s message, the songs are not typical dance numbers from Bollywood or Lollywood movies or western artists but political party songs with subliminal undertones which turn zealous protesters into joyful and surprisingly-good dancers.
“These songs keep us alive throughout the day and give us new confidence and passion to support our leaders and their efforts,” said Sana Khan, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) supporter.
Between demands and deadlines, a survey of the sit-in participants conducted by The Express Tribune on Wednesday revealed that Attaullah Esakhelvi’s ‘Lala’ was arguably the ‘chart topper’ due to its cross-party appeal. The song is equally famous among PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers and supporters.
In the individual camps though, Pashto song ‘Wai Wai’ and the anthem ‘Inqilab Aane ko Hai’, however, remained at the top position in the PTI and PAT camps respectively.
“Bangash’s song woke us up. It liberated us from the restrictions of traditional ideas and turned out to be a wake up call,” said Arif, who came from DI Khan to participate in the PTI sit-in.
It calls for a revolution and revives the revolutionary feelings that were considered an inbuilt part of the Pashtuns, said Arif, boisterously adding that before this song, the tradition of listening to music in public had almost ended. His top three was rounded out by Lala’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ and ‘Jitna vi Imran Khan Jitna’.
A large number of PTI activists placed ‘Wai Wai’ as the ‘undisputed number one.’
The survey revealed that ‘Naya Pakistan’ and ‘Jitna vi Imran Khan Jitna’ were popular among most rally attendees, but songs such as Allah Ho, Saaf Challi, Shafaf Challi and Dil Naik Ho Niyat Saaf were the others songs that people wanted to include in the top three song list.
For PAT workers, nothing beats their anthem: ‘Inqilab Aane ko Hai’. Owing to its lyrics and ‘Dhamal’ at the end, the song stirs emotions of PAT workers. “It stimulates our emotions,” said Rizqa Naseem, who hails from Faisalabad. “It excites us and after hearing this Tarana we become fully charged for the Inqilab.”
Despite some differences between the two camps, ‘Hum Inqilabi Baitiyan’ is another anthem that transcends borders. “It gives me a feeling of respect and belongingness… I feel that Qadri is a father figure,” said Maria Batool, a PAT supporter.
The songs prepared by PTI and PAT are mostly in Urdu, Pashto and Punjabi and reflect the agendas and aspirations of the protesting parties. The songs blare throughout the day on loop to entertain their supporters — many of whom have come from far-flung areas — and also keep them interested in the protest.
Throughout the day, protesters can be heard humming the lyrics of their favorite songs.
“These songs have become our mottos for life and keep us alive throughout the day… rain or sweltering shine, it does not matter to us,” said Nazish Naseer, a PAT supporter who has come from Pind Dadan Khan.
She said ‘Inqilab Aane ko Hai’ revitalises her soul’s lost energies and gives her hope that all her hard work will lead to a better country. Dozens of PAT supporters agreed that Inqilabi Betiyan was the second best song at the PAT camp. “This song gives meaning to our efforts and make us stand together with the same enthusiasm and passion of our leaders,” said Nabeela Fareed, a PAT supporter from Faisalabad.
‘Welcome, Welcome Tahirul Qadri’ and ‘Aagaya, Aagaya Islam Ka Salaar’ ran neck and neck for a while, but by the time the poll closed, the former had edged out the latter to finish in third place.
“The songs and anthems work just like energy drinks,” said PTI supporters Waqar Khurram and Muzammil Ahmed.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2014.