Earlier in the week Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly created five new resolutions for public interest and among them was a ban against objectionable music concerts in all educational institutions. One of the genres identified as objectionable was Hip-Hop. After making some amendments to the original proposal, the resolutions passed the House with a majority vote. Hip-Hop was declared objectionable due to the fact that the authorities in Pakistan feel the music is of poor taste and values. The new ban leaves Hip-Hop fans in Pakistan in a tough situation. This resolution follows an incident that took place last year.
Last year as an attempted positive gesture, the United States took a Chicago Hip-Hop group called the FEW Collective to Islamabad. The group rapped, danced, and recited poetry to an elite educated Westernized group of young Pakistanis. Things went okay until the group ended up being detained by authorities. They were detained because one member took pictures of some “sensitive” subjects in the city of Rawalpindi. The city is home to the high end army headquarters. The individual was not aware that they couldn’t take pictures. This was not the first time that the United States has used music in the name of diplomacy though. The U.S. has been using music for political purposes since back in the early 1900’s. However, Hip-Hop has not been well received as a medium due to the fact that authorities are so opposed to the form of expression. Last year’s misunderstanding is not the only negative incident involving Hip-Hop that has occurred in Pakistan as of late either. A concert took place in the city of Lahore and ended up creating a stampede which left three students dead. Sources say that the views of America in Pakistan hurts Hip-Hop’s ability to flourish in the country too. Research and polls show that only about 12 percent of Pakistanis have a positive opinion of America, 16 percent are not sure how they feel, and a whopping 73 percent have a negative opinion of the American culture. Despite all of the unfavorable feelings towards America, reports say that there is a popular form of music in Pakistan that has traits that are similar to Hip-Hop. The style is called Qawwali and is a traditional form of music in the country. It’s similarities to Hip-Hop are said to be found in the complex vocal structures and in the improvised style of the lyrics. Pakistan is not the only country to issue some type of ban against Hip-Hop. China has the same negative feelings about the genre and has banned several rappers and their music from the internet and personal websites.
**My Two Cents: Stories like this makes me happy to live in the United States. Yes America has it’s faults, but at least the American people are in a position where they have the power to stop bans like this from happening. I can understand not liking the content and such found in some Hip-Hop music but to take away people’s right to listen to what they want is unfair. Additionally, the first incident that occurred was super minor. Anybody could have made that mistake about the pictures. That’s a communication issue, has nothing to do with the person being in a Hip-Hop based group. And the stampede is unfortunate but that is more of a security/crowd control issue. It could have happened at any event. I don’t think it’s fair to blame that on Hip-Hop either. The Hip-Hop genre/culture as a whole gets a lot of heat and it’s most unfortunate. There is a lot of positivity and quality within the culture that people are missing out on. My heart goes out to the Hip-Hop lovers in Pakistan. -MinM