“Ye Jannat-e-arzi, iska naseeb azadi” theme song on Kashmir released in PaK
No one in the immediate and extended family of Omar Ahsan, a Lahore-born entertainment mediaperson, belongs to the divided state of Jammu and Kashmir that could have been a reason to produce an awe-inspiring song on the ongoing uprising in Kashmir that began after the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in July this year.
Then what was it that drove the 40-year-old son-in-law of iconic comedian and actor Moeen Akhtar to venture out into an area that hasn't received as much attention of the Pakistani entertainment industry as it deserves, perhaps because of the lack of fiscal gains.
"The unending atrocities by the Indian troops and remarkable resilience of the Kashmiri people touched me to go for the Kashmir theme anthem song," he told Greater Kashmir at the launch of the song under the banner of IQ Genius Media Production.
Ahsan, who has done masters in business administration and doctorate in psychology, has produced seven or so songs on Pakistan army's campaign against terrorism – Zarb-e-Azab – before he was struck by the idea to do a similar project for Kashmir.
"My blood started boiling when I saw the visuals of the victims of bullets and pellets in Indian-held Kashmir… I searched for any latest songs on their heroic struggle, but to my utter disappointment there was none," he recalled.
He said it was on September 8 he made up his mind to produce a song, following which he invited different poets to write lyrics for his project.
Of the four submissions, he decided in favour of the one penned by Sabir Zafar on September 25.
"Kashmir jo Pakistan bhi hai.. Ye Jannat arzi, ye wadi; hai iska naseeb ab azadi (Kashmir which is also Pakistan… The paradise on earth, the vale, will now get its destiny of freedom)" is the catch-line of the song.
Zafar has to his credit a number of national songs, "hai jazba-e-junoon to himmat na haar" being one of them.
The next phase was composition and the job was efficiently done by Waqar Ali, the Karachi based musician-cum-singer.
Even though some people were afraid of singing in favour of Kashmiri freedom struggle, lest it could cost them any projects in India, Ali Azmat, Umair Jaswal and Alicia Dice came forward to take up the gauntlet. Ahsan himself begins with voice over narration.
He said that the day Umair Jaswal posted on his Facebook page that he would be singing for a Kashmir project, he lost at least 18000 fans from across the border.
"There were many who politely declined (to be part of the project), but Ali Azmat, Umair, Alicia, and Waqar became involved in the project as a commitment rather than a commercial activity… "I am so grateful to all of them for their sacrifice," he said.
Audio recordings completed on October 22 and shoots took next two weeks, and the project marked its completion on November 5.
The launching ceremony was initially set to be held in Karachi on November 12, but then the venue was shifted to Muzaffarabad, for being close to the area where "Indian oppression is at its worst."
"By releasing this song, we want to express solidarity and highlight miseries of Kashmiri people not only in Pakistan but to the world as well.
"In the first phase of this campaign, this song will be released followed by more such initiatives. We will not leave any stone unturned in support of Kashmiris to get their rights. Small part of song will be in Hindi language too to realise Indian citizens about their government and forces' brutalities," he added.
The launching ceremony was attended by a large number of people, including PaK President Sardar Masood Khan, some cabinet members, government officials, political and civil society activists and local media.
All were all praise for Ahsan and his team for his selfless endeavours to promote the cause of Kashmiris.
As the president launched the song which was played on multiple screens, many in the audience could not control their emotions.
"This song not just highlights the atrocities by Indian troops, but it also gives a message of hope," said renowned poetess Dr Amina Bahar.
As someone suggested that such songs should have been produced by the PaK government, President Khan said: "Governments and bureaucrats cannot produce such a remarkable song that can touch the hearts of everyone."
"I am grateful to you and the whole of Pakistan on behalf of all the Kashmiris living on either side of the divide for reaffirming our unflinching bonds of brotherhood," he said.