Pakistan’s tryst with political satire
Songs have been the most popular medium for political satire in Pakistan. From dictatorships to hybrid democratic times, Pakistani pop singers, like the writers, poets and journalists have used satire to communicate with their audiences.
Ali Azmat’s Bum Bum
Phata from 2011 when Pakistan was riddled with years of war and terror, spoke about how the country’s leaders were playing their parts in a political circus while people remained devoid of basic amenities like water, food and electricity.
Similarly, Shehzad Roy’s Laga
Reh, a scathing criticism of lawyers and politicians and how the “aam adami” was held hostage to their desires. The proverbial truck ki batti that the masses are forced to follow. However, there wasn’t any criticism
of then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf’s era, who was central to the movement that lawyers built to oust him.
The idea of the
past generation of pop singers was to put masses and members of the intelligentsia at the centre of their satire and not question the real rulers of Pakistan. One of the first times it happened was in 2011, with Beygairat Brigade’s Aloo Anday, a satirical masterpiece that ripped into the societal hypocrisies, the mullahs, the bigotry of the State and the holy cows that no one would take on. ‘Where Qadri,
the killer of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer is royalty, Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist of 2008 Mumbai attacks is a hero,
mullah uses burqa to escape and where no one acknowledges Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salaam because of his Ahmadi faith.’ Even a decade later, these words resonate, for nothing changes here. In 2013, the band came out with Paisay ki game, which was about the hegemony of Pakistan’s ruling elite.
Dhinak, the role of the military in running the country is talked about, how they will win against you every time, come what may — Gernaila’n da ae jaadu sab kar le ga qaabu. More close to our reality today,
it speaks about the bribed TV analysts, the deep state, and the more real fear of going missing after talking about these subjects. Beygairat Brigade’s musician Ali Aftab Saeed has also ventured solo with a satire song ‘Pen di siri’ on Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi. Interestingly, late Rizvi inspired several Pakistani musicians, even if that wasn’t his intention.