A day at the beach in Karachi

A day at the beach in Karachi from Shaheryar Popalzai on Vimeo.

Watch this in HD!


Vinyl collectors: For the record

The greatest of love affairs are inexplicable obsessions. In Naushad Ali Khan’s case the object of his undivided attentions is the LP (Long Play), or 33rpm microgroove vinyl record.

He is prepared to go to the ends of the earth for it. Once, he picked up his gramophone and travelled to Umerkot because he had heard a Hindu there owned a Kundan Lal Saigal record that he had been dying to hear. When he reached the gentleman’s house, he informed him that he had come for the record.

“He told me the record belonged to his father and was not for sale and I told him I had only come to listen to it,” Naushad tells The Express Tribune. “He invited me in, served me food, and we listened to [it] around six times.”

When it was time for Naushad to go home, the Hindu told him he was crazy and handed it to him as a gift. The song was Ek Bangla Banay Nyaara from the film President (1937) and today Naushad owns one of the biggest Kundan Lal Saigal collections in Pakistan.

Naushad could have listened to Ek Bangla Banay Nyaara on tape, CD or even online. But as he and other collectors will tell you, vinyl is king. “Vinyl records have the master sound,” he explains simply. “There is a lot of flavour.”

According to the experts, LPs sound better because a vinyl record has a groove carved into it that mirrors the original sound’s waveform. This means that no information is lost as happens with digital recordings on CDs and DVDs. Original sound is analog by definition but digital recordings just take snapshots of the analog signal. As a result, they do not capture the complete sound wave. If you want to listen to the real deal, choose vinyl.

Given technology’s steady march into different, smaller, sleeker more long-lasting formats, most people who listen to digital music can’t really tell the difference. Tell someone you collect records and they will laugh in your face for listening to music on an “ancient” format. Once they’ve stopped laughing they’ll ask if people still even own records.

Their cultural ignorance can be blamed on four decades of change. Records started going out of fashion in Pakistan in what is believed to generally be the mid- to late 1970s. Zeeshan Chaudhry, the general manager of EMI Pakistan, says the manufacturing plants started shutting down around the same time. A more portable format had arrived, giving people a reason to move away from the bigger, unwieldy LP record. Listeners had discovered the cassette tape. Record labels started investing as it was cheaper and handier. Eventually, tape was eclipsed by the compact disc, which was in turn swept aside by the digital.

According to EMI’s Chaudhry, they were the only label in Pakistan and were by default the only ones releasing vinyl. “[People] had a special taste for music back then,” he says. “Their ears were tuned for the good and bad sound.” Over 65 years, EMI released an immense LP catalogue, including notables such as Ahmed Rushdi and Sohail Rana and even a number of obscure Pakistani rock bands no one remembers today.

It was thus Kundan Lal Saigal fans like Naushad Ali Khan who were buying LPs in Karachi those 30 years ago. When he was growing up he had seen people place a mic in front of the gramophone at family functions and the sound had him hooked. His first purchase was a Jesse Green record from Shalimar Recording Company in Saddar and he has been collecting ever since.

Around the time cassette tapes started going big in Pakistan, Naushad happened to move to the UK to play club cricket. As it turned out, this was an LP-buyer’s paradise. His trips to second-hand stores and one-pound shops eventually benefitted people in Pakistan. Every time Naushad would return, he would bring back vinyl and lend them to stores that would make master tapes — one for him and one for themselves to make further copies.

Today Naushad helps manage a weekly market at Sakhi Hassan and buys and sells records and sound equipment on the side. He is the best person to go to in order to track down and purchase records. His network includes over 200 kabarias and extends to Parsis and Christians in Karachi.

Second-hand records are imported by kabarias as parts of lots which also include toys, electronic equipment and books. Naushad gets first dibs on most of the records. His contacts call him each time they get a shipment. In return for this service, he pays for their phone credit.

The phone call is followed by quick trips to warehouses in Gulbai and Shershah to sort through records he would want. But the sellers insist he buys in bulk. So some days even though he may only want to buy four out of a lot of 200 records, he’ll have to buy all of them at Rs30 per LP.

“One time I found Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix in a lot of 79 records,” says Naushad. “I offered the guy Rs300 for that [one] record, but he said I’d have to buy all of them for Rs7 each.” He ended up keeping on 13 records and gave the rest away. Michael Jackson and Barbara Streisand really aren’t really his cup of tea.

If you ask Naushad for his favourite records, he will bring out a bag with a lock and carefully open it. Nestled inside are original Jimi Hendrix releases. “These and all of my blues records are my most prized possessions,” he says.

As vinyl disappeared so did some names. One of them is Mairaj who will invariably be mentioned in any conversation you have with a record collector. He owned a store in Khori Gardens where he would sell records and other sound equipment.

But after his death, all you will find are a few scratched records stowed away at the back as his sons sell plastic and tent materials.

Collector Faisal Gill used to buy from Mairaj. “People would leave their records with Mairaj and we would go and buy them,” he explains. “There were others as well, Mansoor near Regal Chowk, Ghafoor in Ghaas Mandi. A lot of people bought their records from these guys.”

Faisal Gill is a bit of a legend himself in this world. The sound therapist, who works with children with special needs, has been buying for over 20 years and while he has lost count a rough estimate would put his collection at 6,000. His first records were handed down to him by his father and the first record he bought was a German compilation of pop music.

When stores selling tapes started clearing out their records to make way for more cassettes and CDs, Gill was one of those who picked up most of their libraries. “I purchased records from Scanners and Virgin,” he says by way of example.

And as records became harder to find in the markets and secondhand markets became inaccessible, collectors closed rank. It is through these circles that they buy, sell and trade records. So, for example, a collector might get word of a wanted record available at someone’s house and will just show up to request a sale or trade.

Now most of the purchases come from abroad, and Gill says he doesn’t have the time to run after sellers and sort through the lots. But if you’re lucky and your network isn’t as strong, you can still definitely find some gems at the weekly markets in your city.

In Islamabad, for example, an Indian correspondent, Rezaul Hasan Laskar, who started his career as a music journalist, has had plenty of good luck while he worked there for roughly five years before returning home recently. He began collecting vinyl when he moved to Pakistan. “My wife would go to the [lunda] bazaar and I never had the time to,” he says. “One day she said you have to come check it out and I started going with her on weekends. It was crazy! I picked up my first LP player for Rs400 and a number of records from classical to rock and roll.”

Over time the seller got to know Laskar and would call him every time a new shipment would come in. This way he’d get to pick records before anyone else did. But the records weren’t always clean. “Sometimes you pick up stuff that doesn’t play or is too badly scratched and sometimes you pick up pristine copies,” he said.

Prices in Islamabad are lower than in Karachi. In the capital you can buy a record for Rs20 at the bazaar and for Rs100 at stores. Sellers in Karachi are, however, slightly more savvy and can go as high as Rs2,000 for a record. But as you can imagine, if it is a rare LP of The Dead Kennedys, there’s probably no limit to how much you will pay.

With information from Discovery Communications Website Howstuffworks.com

This post originally appeared here.

The terrific ten: Comic book geniuses

Grant Morrison

Grant Morrison is a madman! Yes, I said it! The Scottish writer is, hands down, one of the greatest comic book writers this planet will ever see. Morrison’s work is heavy; don’t expect a walk in the park when you open that copy of Doom Patrol — Musclebound or any issue ofThe Invisibles. Grant Morrison will not hold your hand and walk you across the street — he’ll take you to the middle of the street, wait for the traffic light to turn green and leave you standing. His greatest work, in my very humble opinion, has to be the run with Doom Patrol. Of course, that in no way means you discount all the amazing one-shots he has done with DC Comics and in 2000AD. Pick up Arkham Asylum, Judge Dredd: Inferno, Kill Your Boyfriend and New Adventures of Hitler.

Then there is All-Star Superman. Superman has one year left to live, courtesy Lex Luthor as always, and there are 12 tasks that he… okay no spoilers.

Alan Moore

I’m not even going to talk about the greatness of V for Vendetta or Watchmen here. Both were amazing series that led to killer movies and had a far greater impact in the real world (Guy Fawkes is the official face of the hacktivist group Anonymous). Moore’s work is, in one word, intelligent. There is no straight up action and the villains are not beaten into a pulp here. There is detail though, lots of detail. I’m going to be totally clichéd here and quoteKilling Joke as the greatest story Moore has written. A window into the Joker’s past and the paralysis of Barbara Gordon, Moore sets the record straight on why the laughing madman is one of the vilest villians ever created. If you really want to dig in to his work, pick upFrom Hell, Swamp Thing and Miracle Man runs and, of course, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Bill Willingham

Who is Bill Willingham and why is he on this list? Fables. That’s why. Fables is possibly one of the greatest comic book series of our times. Willingham writes a story of fairytale characters who have crossed into our world. Why? Because they were forced out of their homes by a villain known as Adversary. Nothing short of amazing, Fables features all the characters from childhood bedtime stories and poems thrown into a gritty real world setting. Hansel is the head of the inquisition, the Big Bad Wolf is a sheriff… and so on. You can also check out some of his Sandman Presents work.

Brian Vaughan

I haven’t read much of Brian Vaughan’s work and I’ll be dead honest here: I don’t care much for it either. But Y: the Last Man is a must-read. And by must-read I do mean you go buy it right now! Another Vertigo series, Y is the story of Yorick Brown. Both Brown and his male monkey are the only ones left besides women after something kills anything with the Y chromosome.

The search for his mother leads him on a quest to look for a cloning expert, but then there is also the search for his girlfriend and so on… no spoilers here.

Brian Wood

If I had the space, I’d write a 1,000 word essay on the awesomeness of Brian Wood. I was introduced to Wood’s work via DMZ. Manhattan is a demilitarised zone and the US government is at war with an entity known as the Free States. Matty Roth, an intern, is left stranded in Manhattan and he is the only news source inside the DMZ. You’re hooked once you start reading.

The series gives you a glimpse of what could possibly happen to a boiling-pot city like Karachi if things really go downhill. Now I’m a big fan of the Vikings, and that is one of the things Wood did really right. Northlanders was a 50-issue series set in the age of Vikings. If you like reading stories based on historical events, this is a good place to start.

Neil Gaiman

This English author is best known for re-writing the Sandman series, from the gasmask-wearing superhero to one of the Endless, a pantheon of immortals. The series follows Morpheus (aka Dream) through multiple plots, including a visit to Hell, a search for his lost brother Destruction and then to his death. You’d want to pick up the collected works as soon as possible and go through them before the prequel comes out! Gaiman also created as bunch of characters for Tekno Comix, the most prominent one being Mr Hero. You might also want to check out Black Orchid and Marvel 1602 for some of his other work. Besides comic books, Gaiman has also written amazing books. I’m just going to go ahead and recommend American Gods to you.

Warren Ellis

Pissed off journalist in the future plans on taking the president down, and no it isn’t Hunter S Thompson. Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan has to be every aspiring journalist’s favourite comic book. Set in the future, Jerusalem is a journalist living in retirement. A wake-up call from his publisher forces him to return to the city and resume work as a journalist. Most people can only hope to be as ballsy, and as deranged, as Jerusalem. Pick up The Authority, Planetary and Ministry of Space for additional Ellis’ reading.

Garth Ennis

This man is brilliant beyond words. You need to go out right now and pick up Preacher! Jesse Custer is a preacher who is possessed by a being that makes him more powerful than God, who he just happens to be gunning for. Ennis’ work is like someone grabbed you by the hair and smashed your face on the sidewalk. Ennis also loves gun-toting vigilantes. Another essential read is The Punisher… and I’m talking the MAX series here. For those of you who aren’t aware, MAX is an imprint of Marvel that caters to an adult audience. The MAX run is more real world. Frank Castle deals with mafias, terrorists etc and even goes on a mission for Nick Fury (but bear in mind there are no superhero or supervillian appearances in this series). And if you don’t love Barracuda, there might just be something wrong with you…Also recommended reading: Adventures in the Rifle Brigade.

Frank Miller

No list is complete without mentioning Frank Miller, the man behind The Dark Knight ReturnsThe Dark Knight Strikes AgainSin City AND 300! Quite an impressive portfolio, eh?

The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again are both set in a dystopian future: an older Bruce Wayne who makes his return as the Batman, a new Robin and a dead Joker. And that’s just the first series. You can also catch the first part of an animatedThe Dark Knight Returns. The second is due next year. Sin City is more sex and violence, and if you dig that, you’ll dig the series for sure. I’m not going to talk about 300; it’s amazing. Plus I cringe every time someone goes, “THIS IS SPARTA!!!” Want more Miller? Pick up his Robocop run on Avatar.

Mark Waid

Monumental is the best way to define some of Mark Waid’s work. And that work isKingdom Come. The story is, as with most killer series, set in the future. The Justice League reforms, Batman hates Superman, Superman versus Captain Marvel… well, you should just read the rest. Waid is also the man behind JLA: Tower of Babel. Members of the Justice League, save Batman, are taken down by Ra’s al Ghul, courtesy of the Dark Knight. Batman had been keeping records of the superheroes’ strengths and weaknesses…in a just-in-case situation, and the Demon manages to steal the records from him. You might also want to read Superman: Birthright, a redone origin of the Man of Steel, and the Onslaught saga.

This post originally appeared here.

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Video leak: Lucman, Bokhari run ‘planted show’ with Malik Riaz

What do you get when you leave the camera on with two TV anchors and a business tycoon during an advertisement break? A candid video of what went on behind the scenes during what is termed a “planted show” on one of the biggest scandals in Pakistan’s history.

Behind the scenes footage showing Dunya News anchors Mubashir Lucman and Meher Bokhari talking to Malik Riaz during their show surfaced on YouTube under the title “Malik Riaz Planted Interview with Mehar Bokhari and Mubashir Lukman on dunya tv“ on Thursday. The show aired on the TV channel on Wednesday.

The footage shows conversations between Lucman, Bokhari and Riaz focused on the kind of questions they will be asking. Both anchors are also instructed against interrupting Riaz during the interview.

Bokhari is heard saying a question is planted towards the end of the video.

“Say what you want… what question should we ask. It will appear as though it is planted… it is, but it shouldn’t appear it is.”

The video begins with general conversation and is followed by Riaz questioning the anchors on why they are not asking why he is part of “deals”.

Lucman is then seen on the phone asking if the interview is going fine and defending himself by saying Riaz is being given a chance.
Who is he speaking to? Abdul Qadir Gilani, he says.

The anchor tells “Gilani” that he wants to clear his name from taking money and he wants to talk about Hamid Mir’s allegations, but Riaz isn’t letting him take his name. “No, no,” says the business tycoon in response to that.

Riaz then asks “Gilani” to pray for him.

In between Lucman’s smoke break, Bokhari turns to Riaz to discuss what they will ask next. A brief discussion and a “khul kay poochain”, Meher says that they will discuss journalists at the end of the show, so as to “clear her name” at least.

Lucman tells Riaz, “Today I will ask you to give me in front of everyone. Give me a villa like you gave Hamid”. “No, no,” is Riaz’s response once again, followed by a “why not” from Lucman.

Yet another break later, both anchors and Riaz are once again seen talking about what the next discussion will be.

Riaz once again mentions that he wants them to ask why he is in every deal, and is told by Bokhari that she is not interested in asking that question, but is in return told that he wants to go back to it. “So go back,” says Lucman.

Riaz is seen occasionally choosing topics of his choice, focusing on the chief justice as well. He is also visibly upset during one part of the video, where he says that most of his questions are left and the work isn’t done.

Smoke breaks, thumbs up from both anchors, a high five and questions of how the show is going so far are also seen during the video.

Little arguments between both anchors are also regularly seen during the video, mostly on order of asking questions and the time each has to take.

Lucman also tells Riaz that he will ask a “conspiracy theory” question that he wanted to become the prime minister.

He tells Riaz that he will not answer the question before 10, as this will make people wait for it otherwise they won’t come back to the show.

In another interesting revelation, Riaz states that he does not eat roti, chawal or meetha, and will eat an egg or chicken. Lucman asks Bokhari to get barbecue instead.

Riaz is not to be interrupted

The second part of the video has strict instructions coming in for both Lucman and Bokhari that Riaz is not to be interrupted.

Both anchors give their assurance that they will not be interrupting the businessman now. Lucman also tells someone off camera that they should not be pressurising them for a break, and says that they will go over time if they have to.

Lucman then asks Riaz to give him a “dhamaka”, and is promised that he will get one on the next show.

Bokhari also delivers a message from Maryam Nawaz that a car had been offered to them but they had declined it after saying thank you.

During this talk, a muffled off screen voice says something and Riaz tells the female to stay quiet.

The second part also sees both anchors getting into a little tiff over camera time. Bokhari calls Lucman childish, who takes his mic off and leaves.

Riaz appears desperate when Lucman walks off, asking him to come back, saying it will be unfair for him.

An angry Lucman returns and tells Riaz that he will say live on air that he was pressurised into doing the show by him and Mian Amir.

Riaz continues trying to reconcile between the two during all of this.

He then begs both anchors and says that the program will be spoilt and that his life is at stake. Lucman then tells Riaz that he will say that he had gone to meet the man who also had documents to show against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar.

A video close to 26 minutes will now just add to the only dangerously brewing storm that has a member of the judiciary linked to it.

This post originally appeared here.

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From the vault: Pictures from pre-partition India (I)

As promised, here are a few pictures from pre-partition India. There are a lot more pictures, unfortunately I didn’t have enough time today to scan/photograph all of them and spent most of the day sorting and captioning them (will try have them up by next week). I’ll try to get a detailed write-up tomorrow too.

[NOTE: All pictures come from my father Sardar Shoukat Popalzai’s collection]


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Navid Kermani’s question: You suffer, but why?

If God exists, why do good people suffer? Did Man create God or did God create Man? Can suffering eradicate, or strengthen faith? Questions like these were raised at the book launch session of The Terror of God: Attar, Job and the Metaphysical Revolt by Islamic scholar Navid Kermani, moderated by Samina Qureshi at the second day of the Karachi Literature Festival on Sunday.

Kermani was quick to point out that throughout history people had dealt with why God let people suffer by either justifying or negating His existence, but there were also those who quarrelled with Him. This, he said, was the central motive behind a lot of mystical literature in both Islam and Judaism.

Attar’s The Book of Suffering was the most radical way of questioning God on human suffering. Kermani pointed out that the “prophets and fools” in Attar’s book had expected God to act like a god, so they quarrelled with Him and believed in Him at the same time.

The session was quick to move into interaction with the audience after a brief introduction by the author. Most of the questions focused on the existence and qualities of God and each time Kermani was quick to point out that he was a scholar, and therefore his role was not to give solutions but to raise questions.

One of the attendees questioned Kermani on if it was Man who created God or the other way around. The author said that he was no one to say who created who and it was up to everyone else to find the solution themselves. Kermani said that by writing on human suffering and quarrelling with God, he had put his finger on a forgotten chapter of Islamic literature. He said that these were things that were no longer discussed and were a “forgotten motive.”

Cultures throughout history had been strongest when they were self-critical of themselves and questions were being raised. If you look at Islamic literature, critique, including that of God, can be found everywhere, but none of it can be found today. “I speak about Iran but this can also be translated to Pakistan,” he said.

Kermani said that there was no more questioning of authority today. Questioning made religions strong and if the questioning was internal, it would make it stronger. “The way of thinking today is not the way of Islamic tradition, which is much more open and complicated than it is portrayed today.”

This post originally appeared here.

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Zardaris are a Baloch tribe, historian reminds, much to audience’s amusement

Walking into a session on Balochistan, one would expect a discussion and questions on human rights violations, separatist talk and where the government is going wrong. But the session titled ‘Songs of the Falcon: Balochistan’ at the second day of the Karachi Literature Festival on Sunday was anything but that. In fact, it was a talk on the cultural diversity and brief history of the province, and quite dull if summarised into one word.

Named after a short story by Russian author Maxim Gorky, the session was moderated by author and political commentator Dr Rasul Baksh Rais, who spent more than 15 minutes with the introduction and presenting the first question to the panel of Naheed Azfar, Zobaida Jalal and Yaqoob Bangash.

Jalal, who was the education minister during Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, focused more on personal accounts for her answers. Her answers therefore drew on the Makran region, where she comes from, and even when it came to discussing civil society, she chose to mention the construction of a school by her family and how Balochistan focused more on community-based organisation.

Naheed Azfar’s talk on the other hand was more focused on the cultural side of the province, differences in dress, jewellry and a personal account of Baloch hospitality, which left a section of the audience clapping and cheering. This obviously wasn’t very interesting for Bangash, who was seen yawning on stage during one of her answers.

As it turned out, Yaqoob Bangash was a lot more engaging and interesting than the other two panellists – he did exactly what he was good at: give a history lesson to the audience.  Perhaps if the organisers had chosen Bangash to moderate the session, it would have gone differently.

His ‘lesson’ focused more on the history of British Balochistan, the state of Kalat and Baloch tribes existing in both Balochistan and Sindh (mention of the Zardari tribe also being Baloch had Jalal smirking on stage).

Bangash said that it was important to understand the diversity of the province and engage with it, a creation of a state that can hold together. “The reason we don’t understand Balochistan is because we don’t understand what is going on there.”

He was quick to point out that the problem lay with not honouring the Baloch. “You have to engage and honour them, admit past mistakes and tell them that we want you to remain with Pakistan… they will get on board.” Thus, the Baloch will become a part of a national discourse if they are given the opportunity. Probably the most interesting part of the session was not Bangash’s history lesson, but an angry gentleman from the audience who pointed out that the historian was wrong in presenting the geographical history of the province and that the people who knew Balochistan were not being given their rights. The gentleman also directed his ‘mild rage’ towards Jalal, stating that language was a cultural expression of the province and she had not even given its people the right to learn in their mother tongue during her tenure.

This post originally appeared here.

When Twitter gets it wrong

I spend an average of 14 hours online every day. During this time, I monitor stories on different news sites, wires stories, Twitter and various other sources. Being in the news business, you can gauge where the news is wrong and where factual inaccuracies are coming from, which (newsflash) happens often.

From politicians to opinion makers to senior journalists, factual errors and incorrect news is nothing new but it isn’t only media folk who are to blame. The online community itself is also part of this phenomenon. While ordinary citizens are never short of spreading rumors or incorrect news online (coup rumours anyone?) the community in their attempts to play the role of a media watchdog has also gotten ahead of itself on multiple occasions.

Fact-checking is skipped, a practice that makes mountains out of molehills when news starts to spread like wildfire. This often results in damage. But is anyone held accountable for their actions? Rarely.

While the internet is a powerful tool that can be used to further causes, a trend has emerged in recent times to misuse it. A recent example is the online petition against Geo News’ Najam Sethi. The petition, which carries more than 650 signatures, alleges that Sethi made “false claims” and attempted to “defame” Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf by calling his ex-wife Jemima Khan a Jew. While the senior journalist did indeed refer to Jemima Khan as a “Jewish woman” , is his statement something that should launch an online campaign? Is this campaign being led by the right people?

I don’t mean to defend anyone or demean a cause. My point is that we need to use online activism intelligently. The Maya Khan case is one example where it was used in a constructive manner and produced positive results. Do all cases merit a campaign, that too, one that ends in the removal of those against whom action is sought?

Most people on Twitter also choose to tweet information that they have received, and most of the time this information is unverified. After an hour or so of the tweet making the rounds, it disappears once the person who posted it realizes it is incorrect. Recently, rumors of a military coup in Pakistan were started by someone who heard there was troop movement in Islamabad. Interestingly, the government-run APP has also fallen into the trap of misreporting or failure to check the report if you will.

Besides this, many tweets and Facebook status updates can technically be construed as defamation, invasion of privacy and a whole host of other worrisome legal grey areas. It is important for citizens to look at their own actions when calling others out.

So the next time you start an online campaign, make sure you do your research and choose your course of action wisely.

This post originally appeared here.

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Some guitarists from Pakistan who are not the usual suspects

I stopped paying attention to mainstream music in Pakistan a couple of years back, none of it appeals to me anymore to be honest. But hey, I came across a post yesterday that listed the seven ‘best’ guitarists of Pakistan. Nice to see nothing has changed, the usual suspects are on the list – Amir Zaki, Meekal Hasan, Salman Ahmed etc. I won’t comment on where these guys stand, but I will be listing down some guitarists from Pakistan who have been ignored, nobody has ever heard them or you probably don’t care about the kind of music they play.

Before you read on, please bear in mind that I am merely a listener who has found these guitarists at the top of their game. They are in no particular order and range from back in the 90s to the present. Also I will not be writing much about them, their music speaks for how awesome they are.

Adnan Afaq: This guy is a legend. He played in Arsh, the super group whose members weren’t really famous till after they relaunched their careers – Shehzad Mughal, Tanseer Dar et al.

Last I heard, Afaq – who is also known as Adnan Vai – was teaching at NAPA in Karachi. This solo (o hey, Khalid Khan is on stage too) is as honest as it gets:

Nabeel Nihal Chishty: You can’t talk about Pakistani guitarists without mentioning Nabeel, one of the core members of the original Aaroh lineup. The band won Pepsi Battle of the Bands way back in 2002, and with good reason too. They were also spearheading the commercial rock scene in Pakistan, which went full blown once Jal came up with Aadat. Here is a solo track:

Omar Sultan: I was introduced to Omar’s work when he joined Dusk and played on the Eastern Assault split with Distrust. He has also played in H2O (I’m not sure if this was just a one-off project) with Khalid Khan’s brother, Hassan.

This solo will melt your face:

Waqas Ahmed: From Kain to Orion to Odyssey, Waqas is probably one of the greatest guitarists this country has ever seen. I kid you not. I’m just going to post a bunch of links so that you can see just how damn good he is.

Odyssey – Odyssey Pt.1: A Coming Of Age

Saad Akhter Ali: Making his debut with the melodic death/thrash band Communal Grave, Saad went on to form the one man Reckoning Storm. You can hear power metal, symphonic metal, Malmsteen, Castlevania OST in his music.

Umair Nadeem: This kid was around 16 (I think) when he released the Project Berklee track. Jaw dropping. Also played with Overload recently.

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Dear dictator, your rally really sucked

Dear dictator,

Your ‘show of power’ in Karachi was, if I may respectfully say disappointing and anti-climatic. Despite all your tall claims of having massive public support, and an equally large Facebook following, you did not garner enough support to draw even close to 10,000 people at your rally.

Leaders from your party proudly boasted that your rally would be bigger than Imran Khan’s, yet one can only wonder what happened and where you went wrong. Maybe if the attendees were paid more than Rs1,000 and a plate of biryani, you would have been able to fill the ground.  Not only did the numbers disappoint, the fact that friction in the party ranks has now surfaced also shows that there is much to be done before you actually launch your political career.

That your party has started to fall apart even before your return to Pakistan speaks volumes of how far you have to go with your political career. You launched the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) in 2010 and lost one of your major supporters, Sher Afgan Niazi, before you could even reach the first anniversary of your party.

In addition to this, your supporter, the King’s Party, the Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q) is silent about your return and even the cases against you. And what of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)? You helped them stand on their feet again; you supported them and they gained. So, have they pledged their support to you yet?

Let me remind you that things in Balochistan went downhill during your tenure, when the Baloch demanded rights over resources in the provinces. Of course, your military mindset would have none of it. People started disappearing in your tenure, and many mothers lost their sons because you would have none of their ‘separatist talk’. Sir, let me tell you this, the Baloch do not forget so easily.

Your bloated ego does not help your cause either. The people of Pakistan are sick of hearing every single political leader talk the usual rhetoric, about how they are the only ones who can save Pakistan, and they are the only ones who are sincere to the country. A little advice to you sir: please bring humble back.

One last thing before I sign off: if you want to gain supporters, I suggest you return to your country. A true leader stands with his people and fights for them. He doesn’t sit miles away, addressing them over the phone.


A citizen of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

This post originally appeared here.

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