Pakistani singer Atif Aslam faced hate on social media and from the country’s mainstream media, for singing an Indian song at a Pakistan Independence Day function in New York earlier this month. Atif, who has lent his voice to many Bollywood songs, sang one of his Indian tracks ‘Tera Hone Laga Hoon’ from the 2009 film Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif.
Many in Pakistan questioned Atif’s patriotism and spouted hate. A Twitter user who uses the handle @sakhwa wrote, “Zero respect for Atif Aslam!” Another user with @Pakistani09 handle tweeted calling for boycott of the singer. “Boycott Atif Aslam @itsaadee Ap Ne Dil Tor diya #boycottAtifAslam #AtifAslam.”
The singer replied in a long Instagram post, saying that hopefully things will change in a new Pakistan, hinting at Imran Khan’s ascension to the country’s Prime Minister. “#nevergiveup… Simply love my haters. Bayshak Allah izat denay aur rakhnay wala hai. Sabz jhanda meri pehchan hai or mere fans jantay hain k mein iska ehtaram kerna achi tarah janta hun. Mje bohat khushi aur fakhar hai k meray fans fake propaganda Ka jawab dena achi tarah Jantay hain .. I hope NAYE PAKISTAN main un sab logon ko izat dena jaan jayen gae jino ne PAKISTAN ka naam poori duniya mein roshan kia hai .. #change.”
Many like vocalist Shafqat Amanat Ali, who has also lent his voice to some Indian songs, defended Atif. “I stand in support of Atif Aslam for singing his songs at the parade. Music is not Indian or Pakistani. It’s just music. Singers are synonymous with their songs which are loved equally by fans from every country,” Amanat said.
I stand in support with @itsaadee for singing his songs at the parade. Music is not Indian or Pakistani. It is just music! Singers r synonymous with their songs which r loved equally by fans from every country. Should have briefed him if they wanted national songs #AtifAslam
Film critic, Omair Alavi said people need to remember that Bollywood films and dramas are shown openly in Pakistan in cinemas and on television channels as art, film or music has no boundaries. “Don’t Pakistanis go to watch Indian films? Are not Indian dramas a regular on our channels,” he questioned.