What’s so obscene about QMobile’s ad, Pakistan?

Published: June 23, 2016

QMobile recently made an ad that has everyone in Pakistan talking about it. Strangely enough, mostly for good reasons this time. The ad is about a girl called Sara who wishes to pursue her dreams of playing cricket. Like many in our society who feel a girl’s place should be at home, Sara’s father refuses to support her and says “ladkiyan cricket nahin khelti” (girls don’t play cricket) making it clear that cricket is a “man’s” sport.

To this day, potential in-laws look for an educated girl to wed their son, so that she can be domesticated as a homemaker. No sorry, it is still housewife in their minds. She can be a doctor who stays home, makes babies and also round chapatis. There is nothing wrong with being a homemaker, but forcing one to give up their dreams to stay in the kitchen, is wrong.

So this ad was breaking barriers for sure, even more so because the daughter still goes ahead with just her mother’s blessings, defying her father.

Pakistan’s women cricket team recently played and won not only major matches but our hearts as well. Many of the players had similar stories to tell as that of Sara.

At the end of the advertisement, Sara gets selected in the official team to represent Pakistan and even wins player of the match. With all the congratulations pouring in, her father finally melts and accepts her victory as his own and embraces her wishes.

It was a very touching moment and certainly a lesson for all of us to learn from. We should be allowed to pursue our dreams and make something of ourselves. Daughters should be respected as individual identities too.

And then reality came knocking. People started making comments like,

“Shameful ad, it is teaching others to defy parents.”

“Now every girl will run away from home”

“Propaganda video”

“Women want to take the place of a man?”

And then the final blow from a particularly popular person, Orya Maqbool Jaan,

“The ad is obscene. Did you see the way she was running?”

No, Sir, we did not, but you certainly seemed to have been looking… really really hard to have seen what was not even there.

Why is everything positive forced to take a negative turn?

Why is everything good strung up on the moral compass and then declared obscene by people? And that too just for the sake of it?

There was nothing obscene or negative in the ad. It had a good message. Sometimes things should be accepted as they are. Sometimes there really are no hidden conspiracies out there to ruin our youth.

It is a wonderful ad that we should all learn from. The world is changing and we need to move ahead with it, not go backwards.

Shamila Ghyas

Shamila Ghyas

The writer is the author of the Aoife and Demon series. She also writes for Khabaristan Times, The Nation, Express Tribune, Dawn and other publications. She can be reached at @ShamilaGhyas (twitter.com/ShamilaGhyas) and www.facebook.com/shamilaghyas

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ramu

    I will repeat the same thing. This teaches us to defy parents. Tell me how many ad’s being made where Parents stand correct and the child is corrected? Tell me.Recommend

  • Mamu

    Next time your mom makes a goal roti. Stop her and tell your father to make the goal roti and you and your mom watch the Women world cup.Recommend

  • Farooq

    Liberals like the author are destroying our country.Recommend

  • Salma

    The man is a pervert that he had to ogle at a child.Recommend

  • Sane

    This Q Mobile ad is an excellent ad and gives a strong message that women have lot of potential and they can change the mindset.Recommend

  • Striver

    It nothing to do with being liberal or nationalist. Its gives a feeling that something is missing from it. The ad just does not seem be a PK ad. Had it been made in PK I think people would have loved it more. Just watch some of the recent-past ads that were made in PK. You will be amazed how funny and brilliant they were in getting hte message across.
    PK ad industry in decline because ads are being made across the border and are out of context. Dubbing is the only best part.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Yup, lets all blame Orya for what the Quran and the Shariah teaches him to say.

    I bet Orya can come up with at least a dozen hadith or other verses that fully empower his stance on women from an Arab-Islamic point of view.

    Shariah has no place for women, when it comes to human rights. Facts do not lie.

    Islamic apologists only have one or two verses to support that women have a nice spot in Islam, but they fail to realize that these verses were promoted when Islam was in its infancy and needed members.

    In Islam the place of a female is secondary, under a man. They are NOT equal.Recommend

  • Harris

    It’s larkiya not ladkiya Recommend

  • Harris

    There is nothing wrong with the ad but also there was nothing wrong with our mothers who mostly were loyal housewives who sacrificed their entire lives for their families… Recommend

  • crapbuster

    The author writes “The world is changing and we need to move ahead with it”. Well, this statement is analogous to the famous ad line: ‘Naya zamana aaya …apnay saath Gogo laya.’
    The world changing doesn’t necessarily mean that it will always change for the good or move ahead in the right direction. Blindly following new trends is as dangerous as sticking rigidly to old traditions.Recommend

  • Hk

    Writer, actually the way she ran was the first thing I noticed myself because it was weird and artificial, somewhat funny too. Also, the actors in the ad are all Indian actors, their Urdu is different too; I was a little curious to know why they didn’t consider taking Pakistani actors instead. And Ya, I didn’t like the ad too much; everything seemed so forced.Recommend

  • crapbuster

    The author writes “The world is changing and we need to move ahead with it”. Well, this statement is analogous to the famous ad line: ‘Naya zamana aaya …apnay saath Gogo laya.’
    The world changing doesn’t necessarily mean that it will always change for the good or move ahead in the right direction. Blindly following new trends is as dangerous as sticking rigidly to old traditions.Recommend

  • Shehryar Alam Khan

    Parents can make mistakes and wrong choices, this teaches us to believe in ourselves no others.Recommend

  • Shehryar Alam Khan

    That makes no sense.Recommend

  • Shehryar Alam Khan

    And people who sexualise a girl playing cricket are surely bringing the country to development?Recommend

  • Raj – USA

    I agree with you totally. I saw the clip of Orya Maqbool Jan. He is a pervert of the highest order. 2-3 years ago, I watched him in a TV discussion with Marvi Sirmed and Dr. Farzana Bari. Orya was giving examples of animal behavior and of West to make his points on women and sex. Dr. Farzana Bari asked him why he is quoting sexual behavior of animals when he wants to make a point on humans and why is he bringing in West on all these issues.

    It is even more shameful for Pakistan’s TV channels to bring him on their shows and introduce him as an intellectual person. They do not question him too on their TV shows when Orya makes such comments. The ad, as you say is a beautiful ad and only Orya could look at a girl who would be just as old as his grand daughter that way.Recommend

  • Ali S

    Why not? It will be a good lesson in humility for our entitled men – making gol rotis in a hot kitchen isn’t easy and most of our women get zero appreciation for any hard work. God forbid, it might even help the dad gain some perspective and consider his wife a human being and not a roti/babymaking machine.Recommend

  • M Waqas Sajid

    I was wondering, ‘Qmobile, do you really have to make such an Ad. ?”. I had a same feeling after reading Miss Ghyas’s piece.Recommend

  • Ol’rawnder Saini

    It was a good funny advert.. had some logical gaps but it surely did have a message that everyone has the right to follow their dreams…

    When will pakistan understand the women are not for just domestication (a.k.a. Household shit) only…

    Had the dreams of all women been killed for household stuff, we would have never heard of benazir bhutto, or your famous pretty minister, or your pakistan cricket team, etc…

    grow up guys..Recommend

  • maya

    My father makes amazing food and his manhood is not so fragile to be effected by his cooking or cleaning. That just makes him self sufficient, and not a lazy dependent beingRecommend

  • maya

    or maybe the chauvinists are who just cannot stand a woman sharing any public space.Recommend

  • UzairH

    Progress can ONLY happen if someone defies traditions that hold us back. If parents are not smart enough to change their minds, then so be it. Let the next generation improve things.

    Otherwise the mindset and social behavior of being an utterly backwards country will continue.Recommend

  • nouman

    may allah gave us all hadayat ameen.
    nice add by the way this add potrays a very nice advice we should not force any women.thats all I have to say.Recommend

  • Pro Truth

    Orya means she need a sports bra!Recommend

  • mUbbii

    nice insight! we pakistani’s want everything but nothing for our women!!! she can’t even run now ..god should have made her paraplegic. how dare she?? moronic and ignorant.Recommend

  • Nitin Jadhav

    Pakistani audience is not mature enough for this kind of content, Me being Indian found it quite emotional, and beautifulRecommend

  • Parvez

    The add was one of the best on TV after quite some time …… and Orya Maqbool Jaan is a sick mind and a disgrace.Recommend

  • Rizwan Khan

    The problem is that there are too many pseudo intellectuals out there. I for one would appreciate anything Pakistani with Pakistani actors. Recommend

  • Patrick Mc Donnell

    If supporting the achievements of 50% of your population is “destroying our country” perhaps your country needs to be destroyed so that it can be rebuilt to be better than it is currently Recommend

  • Nauman

    I’ll tell whats obscene about this advert….its made and shot in INDIA!Recommend

  • Bilal

    Great ad showing that women also should pursue their dreams, but writing an article to prove it seems desperate. The ad itself gives such powerful vibes regarding women who want to pursue their dreams, but writing an article to prove it shows that a woman can not just let something go with the flowRecommend

  • Salman

    Very sentence “Abbu sai baat ki nahi ja sakti sirf suni jasakti hai” is urging all the kids, not just girls, to simply ignore parents’ advice and go for whatever they believe in- if this is what you want your kids to believe in then there’s nothing wrong- I for one wouldn’t stand for such pathetic messageRecommend

  • Abdullah Ghayur

    Saara action is not under the limits. ICC should take action against herRecommend

  • Rehman Raza Gillani

    People do not oppose the idea of this ad but the “clichés” in this ad. Like sara plays her debut match & she wins the final. DAMN.. Recommend

  • Saint

    Father said right, she can loose virginity by playing cricket,, then who will marry her..!!Recommend

  • Fareed

    Gender roles as prescribed by our Creator need no clarification. If we want to ape the west blindly, we might as well accept the evils that come with it. Just like the Brexit vote, REMAIN or LEAVE. No overlaps please.Recommend

  • Fareed

    Now that I have watched the ad myself, the man does make a valid point.Recommend

  • Fareed

    @ maya
    I am sorry but your comment is not making much sense (assuming you have been born into a Muslim householdd). Please look up the meaning of aurat and AWRAH (the word it is derived from) and then perhaps you would know if women need public space or not.Recommend

  • Rizwan Nasar

    Thisc s the sad reality of Mullahism… I sometime lead jumah at a non-denominational chaple where I work in Tampa, Florida. In one of my khutbas i spoke abouth healthy living and how we are fortunate to have beautiful beaches where we can go for long walks or runs… but one person with OMJ’s mentality came to me after the prayers and complained that I should have not talked about walks/runs on beaches. When i asked why… the answer was because there are not fully clothed women there… All i could think was… go figure…Recommend

  • MR.X

    yes lets disobey our Fathers, leave our homes without their consent. I dont think you would be practising muslimRecommend

  • Usman


  • Danish

    Yea there are only muslims in the world and they’re such great role models OMG!Recommend

  • Umr

    For all those who thinks the ad is not obscene should post the vdo of their sisters bowling the same way the girl did in adRecommend

  • maya

    Or maybe if you think there is anything sexual in being in public space then look up what Quran says about lowering your gaze first…and get the perverted thoughts checked.
    Women have always being in public places, they worked, attended prayers in mosques, fought with sword in the battlefield( Umme Ammara)..if you cant share public then better lock yourself upRecommend

  • Umer

    It is indeed not the mistake of the writer of this blog to appreciate this kind of thinking, but it is the environment in which we are living and misinterpretation of Islam, misqoutations of Islamic view about females, and our extreme lack of knowledge about Quran that prompted the author to write it and the makers of the ad to make it. Islam gives ultimate protection to the women, no other religion does so. By letting our daughters to play a manly support in front of thousands of male crowd, am I showing the world that I am liberal and am I potraying Islam correctly. My dear author, I can only have sympathy with you as I love my daughter, my wife, my sisters and I respect all women, including you. I respect women because my Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked us to protect and respect women, and I am afraid by letting my daughter exposed to barbaric world I am not protecting her. I will teach my daughter to respect her father and his views and listen to your father unless he asks you to do “shirk”, I will teach Her not to loose her faminity by indulging in sports or activities that are not for women. I respect you dear author as you are a women and pray to Allah that you use your intellectual capabilities and brilliant writing to glorify a glorious religion not to misrepresent it.Recommend

  • Shabbir

    Its not orya maqbool’s fault. This is how a pervert sees.
    Sees a girl playing cricket gets a boner!Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    I am an Indian who have lived in US for 22 years and recently returned to India. In US, i used to wash my own toilet (everyone there does) and cook food when my wife was away at work and i was home.
    I as a physician never felt this was demeaning. Even now i help my wife in cooking and other chores at home.
    A nation can be prosperous only when its women are fruitful to the society. That also means they should be allowed to work and explore their talents.
    Since China is what you aspire to be, let me tell you that in China about 78% of women work. China has 3 million (yes 3 million) self-made billionaire women!Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    By the way, an excellent Ad.
    Pakistani women should strive to outperform Pakistani men who seem to be wasting their energies in useless pursuits.
    In India, middle class women are outshining men in every field!Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Have you heard of honor killings so prevalent in Pakistan (and in some areas of India too)?
    You seem like saying paents know everything.
    Well, they do not.
    Honor killing is one extreme example where parents (or one parent) take the extreme step when a son or daughter disagrees.
    Every person has individual aspirations, rights which should be respected.
    Respecting parents is one thing but being a slave to their wishes is another.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Defying parents!
    What is wrong with that?
    If you want to marry say a woman of your choice and your parents disagree but you know your happiness depends on marrying her, would you or would you not defy your parents?
    We are conservative South Indians and I am a Tamil brahmin married to a girl from Kerala who is a non-brahmin. We are very happy.
    I rest my case.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    You got it on bull’s eye, my friend!Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Only person who benefits by status quo are the feudal landlords, mullahs, people who believe that the world is falling apart due to changing times!
    Mullahs did not like it when printing press came into vogue and deemed it unislamic!
    Men have ruled over women by imposing religious edicts, rules, norms what have you.
    It is time women broke all rules and claimed their rightful place in society.
    In India, middle class women are already doing that.
    There is bound to be a backlash (like the one that happens in India) but that should not deter Pakistani women.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Let us say your dad tells you to slit your sister’s throat (just a hypothetical situation) because she brought some dishonor to the family, would you do it?Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Ape the West!
    Dude, West did not invent human rights or the concept women are equal to men. This has been in vogue for a long time.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    This Ad could only have been made and shot in INDIA.
    Pakistan should learn not from India but from China where 78% of women have joined work force. Women in China are better off than in USA. I am not saying this. Author of the well researched book “The brave new world: India, China and the United States” is saying this.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    India has a long way to go as far as women’s rights are concerned but it is at least on the right path.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Pakistani TV channels will have a mullah and an ex-General in every talk show.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Look at the message, not the people.
    So what if actors are Indian.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    There is nothing wrong with my mom too who sacrificed her entire life to be a homemaker.
    My sister is an Engineer working in USA. She does a good job of shuffling between job and housework.
    Change with changing times.
    Otherwise you will be like that stone that remains unmoved thinking it is strong any way and grows moss underneath!Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Urdu came to Pakistan from India and is widely spoken in India, albeit with a different accent.
    We just had a nice conference in India celebrating Urdu:

  • Javaid Arshad

    So what, will it take up your electricity bill if somebody stops to be a “practicing” Muslim ? It is a diverse society. Stop ranting Muslim Muslim everywhere.Recommend

  • Javaid Arshad

    Who are you to point out her ? who gives u this authority to teach her what she must do and must not do ? Its a free world. Women are equal to you, rather i would say better than you, now die or u can choose to suck it up, and live.Recommend

  • Ishfaq Ahmad

    in our society Obedient successful girls are much more than shamila can think.
    They can’t present an obedient girl in ad?????

    Shamila writes about girls struggling for cricket breaking the social and cultural barrier’s,,, but not about the harassment the they come across.
    Few years back it was in the news , harassment in the multan women cricket,,,, that selectors are sexual relation over merit.
    When the writer will ask the women team ,how they reach the national team.Recommend

  • Arsalan

    Sorry to disagree. Unconditional obedience of parents is not even endorsed by Islam. Remember you can defy your parents if they advise you not to practice any teaching of islam. So does islam teach you to defy parents? A sahabi was told by his father ” my son, in the battle agains muslims you came in the strike of my sword but my hand stopped automatically. I could not strike at you.” Remember his son’s Islamic reply ” oh father if you had come in the strike of my sword, my hand would not have stopped”. What does that teach you? Recommend

  • Agha

    Exactly, hope “Mamu” up there learns something from this.Recommend

  • Agha

    You sir have no right to expect other muslims to NOT overlap. Religion has been molded to the days requirements and will continue to be. All i will say is if you do not agree fine but stop imposing your religious persuasion on others. Not everyone likes your regressive mentality (i don’t care if it comes from religion) about women. Other muslims can well adapt and live with their own religion. Just LEAVE others lives to themselves.Recommend

  • Fareed

    If following Allah’s deen is deemed to be ‘regressive mentality’ by any man-made yardstick, I am more than happy to comply and be seen as a fundamentalist. It’s not a matter of imposing anything brother; did Allah’s apostle impose himself on mushrikee when he conquered Mecca?Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    vulgar ad. is this islamic republic of pakistan? why r they not wearing shalwar kameez and dupatta??Recommend

  • Fareed

    Men and women are not equal. This has been clearly stated in the Quran. But that in no way means women are inferior. They have a different role in life. Think about it. Recommend

  • Fareed

    Couldn’t have said it better. Recommend

  • Salma

    then you are equally a pervertRecommend

  • maazkalim

    LOL, You “Nitpicker”!!! :D :PRecommend

  • maazkalim

    Good Catch!!! :P :DRecommend

  • maazkalim

    RO[T]FL!!! :DRecommend

  • maazkalim

    RO[T]FL! H–l Yeah!!! :DRecommend

  • maazkalim

    Ek TVC mein itne short-time mein kitne “logics” dhoondenge aap…?? :P :DRecommend

  • maazkalim

    LOL!!! :DRecommend

  • maazkalim

    Sorry?? :sRecommend

  • maazkalim

    Very well said! :)

    P.S. I’m an Indian, too!Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    pakistani women r becoming out of control with each passing day. as muslims, pakistan must pass new laws for:

    -new strict Islamic dressing codes for Pakistani women.
    -Monitor fashion industry as it is known to spread shamelessness, drinking and vulgarity
    -prevent pakistani liberals from expressing their opinions against these new lawsRecommend

  • Alishba Malik

    Is it not the another episode of stunt from Q mobile? The ad is much emotional and contradicts with our family system. The ad could be made by taking some other brilliant ideas rather than focusing on this dummy idea. Definitely the ad would be liked by those people who are living across the roads and do loitering and loafing in streets as having no family system. “We should Always Expect Silly Ads for Cheap Products”. Thank you.Recommend

  • Fareed

    Javaid sb, the emotional tone used in your message reflects on your maturity or lack thereof.

    As for your queries, did I remotely sound authoritative? I was simply stating what our Creator expects of us. No need to feel offended. Pointing out is not such a bad thing.Recommend

  • Fareed

    Your logic would expect women to walk around semi-naked (just an analogy) and your argument will still sound valid?

    Why are Men described as Guardians/Protectors of women in the Quran?Recommend

  • Farman Nawaz
  • Fareed

    Lets learn to pay heed to what ourCreator says and stop being self righteous all the time. Allah commands women to cover their chests properly and not make them public.Recommend

  • MR.X

    Most pakistanis are muslim, deal with it.Recommend

  • MR.X

    For me faith comes first, and yes if a muslim(OMG >90% pakistanis are so it does se) dad if asks you not go someplace then that should be it . Read the Quran and hadith. Same goes for this javaid arshad. So you cant make me move on what i believe is right you liberal or secular fascists!!Recommend

  • MR.X

    The shariah doesent allow you to follow their commands in such cases, Do some research first. After you have information about Quran and hadith then ill consider what you say. Honour kilings are not part of our religion, and most do not follow such thing only a minority out of nearly 210 million peopleRecommend

  • Maya

    The Creator also ordered modesty for men. Why don’t you ask men to stop playing sports. Haven’t you seen men rubbing cricket balls against their crotches..havnt you seen men wearing shorts shin level in hockey, tennis and smaller in swimming? How about you lecture your men folks first and If you have problem with girls just tell your boys to lower their gaze. Recommend

  • Fareed

    First off, I am not lecturing. Secondly, my comment was not an opinion. I have in fact quoted a verse from the Quran. Modesty for men is equally applicable. Lastly, if you are so obsessed with supporting a young girl running around without properly covering her breasts in the mentioned ad, I am not going to lose sleep over it. To each his own. I have done my bit of Amar Bil Maroof. I cannot hold you by the scruff your neck and force you to start thinking like a Muslimah.

    By the way, I used to get ticked off way more than this when I too was leading a carefree, liberal life. Didn’t like the conservative mindset one bit. Things changed for me; for the better. When and how, even I dont know!

    Stay happy Maya. May Allah give you hidayah. Ameen.Recommend

  • Nauman

    My god…..Mr. Sridhar, what is wrong with you man, don’t you have anything else going on in your life…posting like 50 comments on a Pakistani article. And that too with no concrete knowledge of our religion,culture. All your speaking is on your media built perception…take your 2 cent philosophy and comment somewhere elseRecommend

  • maya

    Your statement that I should start thinking like a Muslimah shows judgment, bigotry and a self righteous attitude. How do you even judge a person’s faith?.. by clothes? How about I judge your faith by your lack of an Islamic beard?
    I have utmost respect for Hijab being a Hijabi myself for 12 years but that doesn’t allow me to judge who is better than the other based on choice of clothing. People with beards and Hijab may lack in many basic fundamentals than those without them and vice versa. There is no way of telling. Stop reducing Islam to clothes and judging who is a better MuslimRecommend

  • Ali Faraz Haque

    Fareed sahab, the religion that you so overwhelmingly quote, most of the times out of context, also tells its followers and I quote
    “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path”
    Back off and stay back, your perception and understanding of Islam is for you alone, live with it, at the end you will be asked for it, whatever someone else thinks is his problem.
    As for your gender roles, the word used for man is “Qiwam” or to be exact the verse says We have made the men Qiwam of their womenfolk. Qiwam means provider and providing security is also your job. They are protectors of the women folk. This does not give you the right to lock the women up or design a dress for them. You re to protect your women folk, regardless whether they follow the islamic dress code or not. If a woman who you are responsible for appears indecent in public, she will be judged by Allah for that but if you cant protect her from being raped, you will be asked for that. Your job ends here, you are providers for them women in return for their companionship. That is why Allah asked women to guard your honor, Allah never told men to make sure your women guard your honor. If they dont, they will be asked for it, so stop imposing your perception. Islam is free to be understood by everyone in the way Allah wants him to understand. Quran is so diverse and you wish the people to go as per just one person’s perception?Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Who gave you that silly idea.
    Women are appreciated for their work.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Please provide some statistics to back your view.
    Even some porn stars are millionaires Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    I can share with you the atrocities committed by the developed nations.
    But you are deaf , dumb and blind.
    So perhaps you should follow them , but elsewhere.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Honor killings have nothing to do with Islam.
    Mx X is right .
    Do some research.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    If you can find time away from objectifying women then good luck to you.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Do you see the clothes that western women wear during their sports?
    And you wish to bring this filth into my country?
    Keep your Desi liberal ideas for your tea and burger parties.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Then their message is just as fake and hypocritical as Indians themselves.
    You get off on objectifying women,we do not.
    You objectify them in school,media,drama,hospital.
    If the world were according to you then women would roam around all day wearing tight jeans,saris and heavy makeup.Recommend