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.

  • Zeeshan

    Maybe his understanding of music is so limited that he is unable to give a critique on that, however when it comes to religion every one seems to have an opinion!Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    As for Pakistan, as long as the GHQ makes its local and foreign policies, not an inch of change for the good can come about.

  • midhat

    Extremely insensitive to publish this article when the nation is mourning the loss of one of its most celebrated icon. An era just ended with JJ and while we have not even come out of this shock, you chose to highlight some mistakes ( for which he begged forgiveness with extreme humility uncommon in this age of arrogance). Being a career woman myself I didnt agree with certain things but given that only prophets are sinless, JJ was the best among the best when it comes to his character.
    The reason celebrities who criticized him are praising him now because 1. The impact of His good deeds and his character was out of the ordinary,
    2. Given that everyone is flawed, it is extremely distasteful to bring some low points of a deceased person at the time people are choosing to mourn.

    Being a liberal and a feminist I appreciate your writings but this was lowRecommend

  • Kasturi K

    Inna lillahi… Passing away of the human soul is always sad. However I was equally shocked to hear about his second wife who died with him. Any information about the lady, who was she and when did she enter into his life?Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    My uncle was a victim of the PIA crash in Cairo in the year 1965. My auntie got insane at the horrible news, her three sons fell in depressions and my grandmother had a heart attack. It is HORRIBLE for the bereaved family members.

    Although I have nothing to do with Islam anymore, but as a Pakistani citizen I love Junaid Jamshed, because he is for me a singer and has sung some great songs.

    I offer my sincere condolences to all the bereaved families of this fatal tragedy!Recommend

  • http://blog.momekh.com/ Momekh

    I heard about people who would remind us about the negativity in others…even when those others have died. Recommend

  • S AM

    No mention of his success in the fashion industry? Entrepreneur that he was, he managed to carve a niche for himself in a notoriously ruthless industry.Recommend

  • Usama Bin

    i am sure you have read the translation of the Quran, and believe it is God’s word, so maybe you can testify that at least the first part of J.J.’s “mysogynistic” statement, is true. As for the second part i believe it can be debated, and debated by scholars who have actually studied Islamic law and theology in depth. As for his statement on Aisha (R.A), it was based on a hadith he read which happend to be unreliable. I’m sure you would have heard “Earn knowledge, even if you have to go to China for it”, as a hadith, this is Mau’do, which is lower in classification than a Za’eef and thus almost certainly fabricated. Being a muslim, yes, it is our responsibility to verify the strengths of the ahadith we present in our conversation but in case that is not done, as J.Jamshed clearly did not do, does it still count as blasphemy. I leave that to you?Recommend

  • Amer

    People who knew JJ personally knew that the allegations were all false, there was far more to the man then the few words that some skew to attack him. To read such a vile piece after his death was disgusting to say the least. Pakistanis loved him like their own family member, it was because he cared about people… there is so much I can write all day about JJ …. Do you think anyone would even care to talk about you?
    Maybe have a look at Farahnaz’s blog, she knew JJ personally….Recommend

  • only truth is nature

    Very bold and realistic writing.Recommend

  • SkepticalFaraz

    Good thinking behind the title of this article. Junaid Jamshed truly personified your regular Pakistani..beautiful and gifted yet vulnerable to being exploited by religious extremists.Recommend

  • Subhan Ahmad

    He is also Pakistan, so I guess had to be truth to his statement “Absurdly talented yet seriously flawed”.Recommend

  • Amer

    JJ walked the middle line between liberal fascists and religious extremists. Now both groups are attacking him as they did in his life.Recommend

  • syeda iftekhar

    let his rooh rest in peace and let his body be found first before you go on with his character assisnation, your judgement about him is awful! respect the deceased !Recommend

  • hore choopo

    peoplle love him for his songs rather his preachingRecommend

  • Muhammad

    What do you mean “seriously flawed”? Just because his views did not conform to your views he was conservative? I believe no man is perfect, not even you nor me. Let’s mourn JJ and others who lost their lives as human beings rather their professional identities and look within the self because ultimately everyone has to meet and be answerable to their creator. If you believe in that, that is.Recommend

  • 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

  • Noman Ansari

    Conform to my views? Ahh the hunter plays the hunted. News flash Muhammad, this country has been conforming to your views since Zia-ul-haq.Recommend

  • http://www.jaaliangrez.wordpress.com Saira Z.

    A “seriously flawed” piece written and published at a very wrong time. Too judgmental, too judgmental!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

  • yelloflash

    You know what you sound like? You sound like someone who has nothing to do but go door to door and cause pandi kharabi among saas bahu and what not. Thats the picture you just painted of jj like someone paints of a bahu infront of saas..Recommend

  • Nimra

    The dichotomy that we saw in his life pretty much reflected the struggles he was facing wanting to stay close to the religious values and overcoming the worldly desires. We all go through such struggles and I am certain that we all are pretty flawed at some point or the other in our lives and this is the time to ask forgiveness with a sincere heart for JJ and the people who were on board.
    May Allah grant him highest place in Jannat ul Fordous and all the people who were a victim of this incident!

  • Tayyab Khan

    It was a serious flaw on your part to have written this, and an even more serious one for ET to have published it. I come from a generation that grew up listening to Junaid’s songs, and loved him for who he was. The fact that you chose to do this in Junaid’s case denotes a callousness and insensitivity that is unique to you and the newspaper that published your crap, a serious flaw not shared by the majority of Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Khawlah

    What makes you think you do?Recommend

  • Mehwish Mansoor

    Absurdly talented yet seriously flawed, yes; but the point is the last verb can be used for all of us. But he was no ordinary man. His talent, his gusto, his will power, his enigma, his voice need to be recognised and appreciated for all the wonder it generated, both on and off screen. Some of his remarks were sexist, misogynistic.. true that. But that still doesn’t put him down from the pedestal of a man who made history, in all its worldly and heavenly senses. A man who dared to stand against the odds. Yes he faltered, he stumbled but he was on a constant struggle with himself . A struggle so hard that most of us have almost given it up and embraced worldly life in all it’s entirety… he deserves to be mourned and we all deserve to mourn his sudden demise, for we have witnessed and lost a legend, no small thing. As for the matters of heavens and souls and eternal peace and whether he has achieved it or not, better leave that to Allah since these issuers are totally out of any human being’a domain. Recommend

  • AK

    Seriously flawed piece of writing. Guess both our so-called liberals and so-called mullahs can’t let a person be until and unless he or she fits their narrow pigeon hole of a view. Then again.. we shouldn’t expect anything different from ET’s writers.Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi

    Go and watch his speeches and Interviews. He himself says that he was given more respect as a preacher.Recommend

  • SkepticalFaraz

    People who cussed him for turning religious still loved him, including myself.The emotional connection Pakistanis had with Junaid Jamshed is revealed by the sadness on every one’s face, regardless of their religious orientation. He was an integral part of us because we saw so much of ourselves in him.Recommend

  • ioer

    Only in Pakistan you can consider playing, and listening music, and women without dupatta as “liberal fascism”. I don’t think you know what “fascism” means.Recommend

  • M ali

    I totally agree
    Well im not conservative to the core but im awe struck by the fact that people are still in a dilemma about JJ’s way of livinv
    until he was’nt shifted towards the right people didnt seem to have a problem , eversince he chose a path which people arent comfortable with , everybody has a judgement to pass
    Im scratching my head now , liberals are shouting for equal rights , chosing your own path etc under the effect of a rainbow.
    Buf when JJ chose his path which he thought was the one for him , every leftist is doing a research on his personality metamorphosis under the light of Pakistan
    Kya khoob kehnay hain

  • 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