Junaid Jamshed is Pakistan: Absurdly talented yet seriously flawed

Published: December 8, 2016

Both nationally and intentionally, the man worked with numerous charities working towards maternal health and positively impacting the lives of underprivileged women in Pakistan.

Capping off a year already filled with terrible news was yesterday’s tragic incident. A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral, killing 48 people on board and leaving the country in shock.

To start with, the pain being faced by the families of these lost 48 lives must be incalculable. To lose a loved one so abruptly without closure is a terrible ordeal. At the very least, the loved ones should be provided with grief-counselling by the government at the earliest, though the chances of this happening are low.

There must also be questions asked about PIA, a bloated organisation that has limped along for years with dozens of national and international incidents of corruption and misconduct. I myself have flown on PIA flights that were delayed, worryingly enough, because of mechanical issues. A thorough investigation must be conducted.

Pilot error should be forgiven – we are all prone to mistakes – but negligence, especially in the shape of avoidable problems must be tackled. Unfortunately, there is little hope in this regard. PIA has often reacted to attempts at accountability or reform with vicious backlash.

PIA Chairman Muhammad Azam Saigol was quick to take away blame from the airline stating,

“I think there was no technical error or human error.”

It seems strange to reach a conclusion so quickly without a proper investigation.

On the other hand, take for example the moment when a ferry sank in South Korea and those involved were taken into custody. What’s more is that Prime Minster Chung Hong-won made a symbolic gesture and stepped down. Here, PIA will not even account for its large workforce or the scams they are involved in.

This aside, the most talked-about loss from the incident was pop-star turned evangelist, Junaid Jamshed, a casualty we will not be able to come to terms with for some time.

Turning to Twitter for reactions, I was troubled by responses from some of the most followed Twitteraties in Pakistan. I am not going to name anyone, but the very pundits who had rightly taken Junaid Jamshed to task for blatantly misogynist views, preaching sexism to his countless impressionable followers, not standing up for minorities, painting Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife, Hazrat Aisha (RA) as an overly emotional woman close to breakdown, were now hypocritically eulogising him as a saint.

Some of these very people praised him as an Islamic preacher about to enter the gates of heaven, overlooking the very flaws they had chastised him for. Perhaps his sudden death had reminded them of their own mortality, or perhaps all it takes in Pakistan to be considered a pious person is the attire and facial hair of a holy man.

No one should celebrate the man’s death, but we shouldn’t whitewash him either, for views without nuance serve no one.

For me, JJ epitomised the nature of the country. Yes, Junaid Jamshed was Pakistan; absurdly talented yet seriously flawed. In fact, if you look at his life, it mirrored Pakistan’s metamorphosis in character. Like Pakistan, which went from a more liberal country to one still coming to terms with stringent ideology, he was once a magnificent pop star who stood tall during Ziaul Haq’s conservative era, redefining Pakistan’s music scene, until he found more interest in scripture.

It would be no exaggeration to say that JJ had the same impact on our local music scene that someone like the King of Pop had on the rest of the world. It would be no exaggeration to say that ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ has been a strand of optimism for many a Pakistani.

But like his country, the artist slowly shifted towards a more conservative mindset. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing had he not adopted views on women from the last century. To make matters worse, and again like Pakistan, Junaid Jamshed carried an essence of hypocrisy, often shot mingling in close proximity with his female friends while preaching otherwise to his impressionable followers.

There is also another dimension to Junaid Jamshed, an aspect few knew of, and that’s his work for charitable causes. Both nationally and intentionally, the man worked with numerous charities working towards maternal health and positively impacting the lives of underprivileged women in Pakistan. Again, like the country, under the complex exterior some benevolence could be found.

I, too, mourn the loss of Junaid Jamshed. I mourn the death of the wonderful musician he once was, giving melody to our souls, though perhaps that Junaid Jamshed passed away a long time ago. The new Junaid Jamshed was a contradictory man, as paradoxical as Pakistan itself.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

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

  • hore choopo

    peoplle love him for his songs rather his preachingRecommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi

    Ironically the author himself suffering from the same issue he wanted to relate with Junaid Jamshed. Spare the deceased soul and move on and do something better for yourself and people around you.Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi

    It means you don’t even know JJ.Recommend

  • Ahmed Ata Khan

    We are nobody to judge, Junaid did the real Jihad expected from a Muslim. Nobody is perfect and he strived to do it as well as he could. We all make mistakes and he was down to earth enough to accept them. Who has given you the authority to judge him. He was certainly better than most of us hypocrites, an inspiration to millions.
    Be a critic, not a cynic.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Liked the comparison…..made a lot of sense.Recommend

  • secular

    Conversion of Kalash people is not a good thing. only 3000 left. Rest of them already converted to Islam by some way.Recommend

  • ab

    We forget that he was an super star in the making when he left the music industry. He sometimes failed to come in terms to his current life.

    Is wearing a beard means to you people that he had become an angle? We are no one to judge. Why a person with beard is equated with an angel . He was a human being with all his flaws!. A person cannot go to the paradise unless Allah’s mercy even if he prayed all his life.

    You forget to mention about the film which he promised to shoaib mansoor which he tried working and pulled out!. He had left the music industry a long time ago when he talked about working in a film.Recommend

  • ab

    Well saidRecommend

  • Saqib Ali Rana

    it seems like being insensitive is the new cool. whether it be mullah’s bashing qandeel balouch or liberals bad mouthing somebody at his funeral, both have displayed complete ill-mannerismRecommend