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Musharraf, Music and Movies

"We are a country that forgets … but Musharraf has steered us out of severe crisis."

Generally a quote like this may be expected to come from say a government spokesperson, a pro Musharraf supporter, a member of the APML or even a resenting member of the public. But this was said by none other than original Coke Studio producer Rohail Hyatt. The singer and musician who bought us greats like Vital Signs was one of the few media personalities who spoke up for Pervez Musharraf.

So did Pervez Musharraf steer Pakistan out of severe crisis? Well we know that Pakistan as a whole was succeeding in every possible sector during Pervez Musharraf’s tenure just as the media was. The limit on Pakistan’s media was never a subject of importance with the governments of Zia-Ul-Haq, Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif in fact all 3 pretty much stood on the same page and didn’t really do anything to change the situation in the country with regards to the media.

Along came Pervez Musharraf the so called dictator who in actual fact liberalised the people of Pakistan by opening up the media gates allowing up to 80 new channels to be broadcasted from Pakistan. The launch of Paksat satellite meant that now there was a platform to broadcast Pakistani channels nationally and internationally and thus therefore providing the necessary stage to allow Pakistan’s media to flourish.

There were channels ranging from dramas and news to film and music spread all over Pakistan introducing a nostalgia of evolution, innovation and new ideas. Initially Pakistan’s one prime time slot on PTV had now turned to up to 80 different prime time slots. This meant that with the azaadi the media had been given initially our artists were now to an extent free to express themselves. Within years Pakistani artists became internationally acclaimed and Pakistani music became readily available not just nationally but internationally too.

During the years of 2000 to 2007, (the Pervez Musharraf years) a huge array of artists took advantage and enjoyed this new media which was booming in Pakistan. Abrar Ul Haq released 3 albums, Faakhir Mehmood released 3 albums, Haroon released 3 albums, Ali Zafar released 2 albums, Junoon released 2 albums, Jawad Ahmad released 3 albums and Hadiqa Kiyani released 2 albums. For an era which some classed as an era of dictatorship some of our greatest artists reached the heights they are known for today. Atif Aslam and Ali Zafar, two of Pakistan’s biggest stars to date were not only introduced but shot to stardom during Pervez Musharraf’s tenure.

During the Pervez Musharraf tenure singers and artists were able to stand free on stages across the country and emerge as talent which wasn’t really seen of until then. If a comparison was made of the music videos that had been shot in the Pervez Musharraf regime as opposed to the governments before a notable difference can easily be seen.  The governments spoke of Zia Ul Haq who quashed the rights and freedoms of our talent and stars and yet the governments of Benazir and Nawaz Sharif did little to give accommodate for our media talent in fact it was during the tenure of Benazir Bhutto that Junoon (one of Pakistan’s biggest bands) had its music video banned from state TV and during the tenure of Nawaz Sharif Junoon was banned from performing in Pakistan as well as their music being banned on state run TV and radio!!

At the peak of 2007 Pakistani music was flourishing so much nationally and internationally that singers like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam made their mark in neighbouring India. During Pervez Musharraf’s tenure in the U.K Pakistani concerts were being held more regularly than ever before. Super Music Masti, Milan, Sounds of the Indus were just some of the notable internationally held concerts done during the Pervez Musharraf regime and for the first time ever London celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day in 2007 when a parade marching through central London ended at Trafalgar Square and a concert celebrating Pakistan’s Independence was done. Pakistani music had never had this type of exposure before and it highlighted and set the standards which some class as the best years in Pakistani history.

At the same time Pervez Musharraf eased the laws with regards to the import and showing of Bollywood films in Pakistan a move many disapproved of which though encouraged Pakistani cinema to flourish. Now multiplexes were being built and erected across the country meaning a higher standard of cinema. This encouraged not only the cinema business and industry in Pakistan to pick up again but at the same time gave the necessary competition to the Pakistani film directors to begin making movies which sat at an international standard. This standard was to go on to make its mark as a foundation for Pakistani film making and slowly but surely movies such as Bol and Khuda Kay Liye had hit our cinemas. Javed Sheikh after the release of his film Yeh Dil Aap Ka Huwa, said that due to the easement of the rules in Pakistan in years to come Pakistani cinema will see heights of success due to new young filmmakers encouraged to come towards film.

Pervez Musharraf’s opening of the media was the original jump start that Pakistani media needed to begin. Music and movies now in Pakistan sit at a pillar where they probably hadn’t sat ever before. The introduction of a media now means that Pakistani media is actually one of the most powerful institutions in the country. Going back to Rohail Hyatt’s quote, Pervez Musharraf did steer Pakistan out of crisis and in fact saved and put Pakistani media on the map. 

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