Month: May 2016

As Lahore welcomes spring, Al-Hamrah was host to the Lahore Music Meet (LMM) 2016 amid tight security measures.

Barbed wires encircled the entrance while loud music played inside presenting a bizarre scene, for two days, April 2 and 3, from 12 noon to 10 pm.

LMM’s goal was simple and clear – to provide an open space for people from all walks of life to enjoy music, listen to various genres, learn something new and to give them an opportunity to meet other music enthusiasts.

A stage set in the middle of the main ground for live performances kept the music lovers engrossed for two days.

“Music is important for the well-being of a person’s mind. It helps people remain sane,” said Tamoor aka Mooroo while talking to Pakistan Today.

The two-day event consisted of over two dozen sessions talking not only about the enjoying of music but the making of it. Some of the sessions talked about the technical aspects of making music, while special workshops showed people how the various instruments are played.

“Such events encourage people to pursue music both as performers and listeners, making art more relatable,” said Ali Sehti while talking to Pakistan Today.

The event was not overshadowed by any particular genre, instrument or just the lead. LMM showed the audience that a lot of things make up a good song, from the bassist to the producer, from the drummer to the writer and the singer – everyone plays an important role. One without the other cannot succeed.

Natasha Noorani, one of the founders of LMM, feels that it is only through music that all class and social boundaries are bridged. The main idea behind LMM was to give people a space to meet their favourite musicians and talk and enjoy music.

“We have everything, from Sufi Qalam, Pop Rock, and Classical to Indie Rock, so that everyone can find their own voice and move out of their comfort zones and experience new things,” Natasha said.

With informative sessions like “Believing in yourself by Noori” and “Listening for Success by Aaron Haroon Rashid” the attendees were kept enthralled and wanting more for two days.

Sessions like “Scoring Manto by Jamal Rahman” and “Classical Music Appreciation by Tina Sani” would dissect the layers of a song and teach the audience how to appreciate it more deeply and enjoy it more intimately. They attempted to teach the music lovers how to listen between the lines.

Tina Sani believes that such events are immensely important for the youth, “The youth need to learn about music and such events promote that in them,” she told Pakistan Today.

“Composing from scratch by Ahsan Bari” and “Spaces between Music” taught students of music how to produce their own pieces from scratch with various instruments.

The crowd was thin but just right. These people were musicians, artists and supporters who wanted to be part of a musical revolution in the country.

“I wanted to see what other musicians are doing. I am getting into some production too so I wanted to learn, and talk to the experts,” said Fati, a violinist, guitarist and cello player at the event.


When Aaroon Haroon Rashid was asked that if LMM strives to provide a platform for musicians. Does that mean Pakistan lacks opportunities for artists, he was all praise for the event, “I haven’t seen an event solely dedicated to music like this in Pakistan.”

He feels that back in the 90’s, he was lucky as there were only a couple of TV channels which gave him and his band a lot of exposure.

“The incredible amount of musical talent has no platform in Pakistan,” Rashid said.

He also feels that the media has to play a larger role in bringing to front these artists.

“The local media, radios all play Indian songs which make it difficult for the newbies.”

Many of the guests felt the same. They said that artists in the country aren’t given the support or motivation to move forward. “On the international level, you do not only represent your country through education and politics but also through art and culture,” Nasir said.

The live performances kept Al-Hamra alive and abuzz. New and old talent would perform and take the audience by storm.

The highlights of the event were Red Blood Cat and Mai Dhai performances on the first day, as well as a conversation between Ali Zafar, Ali Sehti and Zoe Viccaji during one of the sessions.

Ali Zafar during his session talked about what the country is going through and how it fuels his music, “During my happiest periods I haven’t produced any music of essence,” Ali Zafar said, he along with Ali and Zoe thought that the darker side of an artist is the most creative. Though living in negativity for prolonged periods puts an artist through a deep depression.

On the lighter side, Ali Zafar talked about his music, his growth and how the occasional ‘poondi’ is good for survival.

The event concluded with a live performance by Sounds of Kolachi and Attaullah Esakhelv during which the crowd danced and let out some steam.

“Musicians need a driving force which is their audience. It takes a lot of time to create music and they deserve appreciation,” said Furqan Shayk, a comedian while talking toPakistan Today.

While the event was not glitched free – there were many last-minute changes to the schedule, the halls weren’t really full – there is hope for a better and bigger LMM next year which could bring together more people and more musicians.

Originally published in Pakistan Today

Another blast shocked Pakistan last weekend. This time it was the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Iqbal Town, Lahore.

76 were killed and hundreds injured, mostly women and children.

It was Easter Sunday and the apparent target were Christians, mostly Muslims were killed in the explosion.

After the APS attack in Peshawar, we said ‘never again’ but nothing seems to stop these attacks from happening. What are we doing wrong?

Extremist groups were supported to fight in Afghanistan and India in the past and Pakistan is dealing with its repercussions.

The country is already in a state of war, with operation Zarb-e-Azb in progress, the fear instilled in the hearts of people never leaves

“Until all state support is stopped and playing favourites amongst extremist groups is ended, they won’t see any change,” Ahmed Rashid, veteran journalist and bestselling author, told DNA.

The country is already in a state of war, with operation Zarb-e-Azb in progress, the fear instilled in the hearts of people never leaves.

“As a nation, we have to be ready to face anything,” said Dr Mohammad Iqbal, SP Iqbal Town, while talking to DNA.

“We do not have any equipment capable of stopping a suicide bomber.” He thinks it is the mindset that needs to be fought. “Once a religious extremist is born we cannot stop him. We need madrassa reforms along with curtailing religious extremism”, he added.


Madrassa reforms were mandated in the National Action Plan in 2014 after the massacre at APS. Some unregistered madrassas were closed down under NAP. Some seminaries were declared suspicious and others were thought to be involved in illicit activities and the registration process was supposed to be completed by now.

Punjab completed mapping of only 13,782 seminaries in the province. Sindh and Balochistan completed only 60 per cent of the exercise, according to reports in January.

“After the Qadri protestors incident, I feel NAP has failed”, said Tahir Ashrafi, Chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council, while talking to DNA.

He is the view that people who conduct such barbaric acts of killing and display illiteracy by damaging state property shouldn’t be considered Muslims, let alone human beings.

Expressing grief over the Lahore blast and disgust at the Qadri protest, he said, “These acts fuel extremist support and should be banned by the government. Uneducated men are influenced by these acts, thinking that they are following the will of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)”.

The country needs another war but this time against such an extremist ideology, he added.

Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in Asia (55 per cent). It stands at the 160th position in the world.

“Lack of educational disciple and the unattended madrassa system, which gives out improper education by misinterpreting Islam, is certainly a reason for such causalities,” Ahmed Rashid said.

There is a need to improve the country’s security, so along with investment on various infrastructural projects, some more time and money needs to be invested in education, especially the curriculum needs revision.

Lack of educational disciple and the unattended madrassa system, which gives out improper education by misinterpreting Islam, is certainly a reason for such causalities

“More investment in education with a dedicated core of people willing to teach youngsters is needed. Their salaries should increase, which will increase professionalism. Being an educationist is something people should be proud. Sadly that’s not the case in Pakistan”, Rashid lamented.

Ashrafi, on the other hand, said social media, as well as mainstream media, play a large role in changing the youth’s mind. These platforms should be targeted by the government to make them hate extremism and go on the right path.

Originally published in Pakistan Today