New Delhi: Pakistani celebrities are facing intense backlash for attending a TV entertainment award function in Canada when back home, lakhs are struggling to survive after losing their houses to devastating floods.
As photos of celebrities such as Ushna Shah, Ahmed Ali Butt, and Zhalay Sarhadi dressed to the nines at the 8th HUM Awards were shared on social media and news channels, fans expressed their dismay and displeasure. Butt was among those celebrities who mocked Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie’s visit to Pakistan last week for flood relief and criticized people for applauding her.
Many Pakistani A-listers who attended the awards in Ontario on September 24 were also seen enjoying themselves before the event. Fans, and even politicians, expressed anger about celebrities leaving the country during a major crisis.
Anglena Jolie is a superstar. She is much famous and talented star than our so called heroines. We as a nation should think our whole country is facing crises and our stars are dancing in Canada. They are not stars. Shame on you #MahiraKhan #sajalaly #humawards2022 pic.twitter.com/1ADZoYcyOi
— Rai Ahmed Sultan (@RaiAhmedSultan1) September 25, 2022
Pakistani Peoples Party leader Sharmila Faruqi called them out for not doing their part during this difficult time while Angelina Jolie, who is also a special envoy for the UN refugee committee, came to the country’s aid.
“Not a single one of them even bothered to visit any flood-affected area or show any solidarity in cash or kind except for Hadiqa Kiani. I truly believe in cultural activities, award shows, performances etc, and our artists and actors are second to none. But it would have been great support if all of them had reached out to their fellow countrymen who have lost their homes, lives, and livelihood to the devastating,” said Faruqi in her Instagram post.
She urged citizens to stand by the victims, hold, support, and love them. “Each one of us has a responsibility towards our nation and its people who have given us so much. It’s payback time,” she said.
Last week, Jolie said that the floods, due to which more than 1,600 people lost their lives, were a “wake-up call” for the world and called for more international aid.
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Two sides to the ‘gala’
In response to the backlash, the HUM Awards organizer released a statement saying that a major portion of the generated revenues of the show as well as proceeds from the fundraising gala will be donated to flood relief and rehabilitation efforts.
“As announced earlier, HUM Network is using the platform of HUM Awards Canada to raise funds for the flood affectees. Apart from donating a significant portion of revenue from the sale of tickets, we are organizing a fundraising gala in collaboration with the artists who have traveled for the awards,” HUM TV announced on Instagram.
Under a barrage of criticism, some celebrities defended their attendance, insisting that they were simply “doing their job”. “It’s quite disconcerting to read the criticism… It is imperative that those affected by the floods know that they are not forgotten and we are working on channels to raise funds through our industry,” said actor Ushna Shah on Twitter.
— Ushna Shah (@ushnashah) September 22, 2022
Pakistani TV actress Nadia Hussain also questioned the critics, noting that international celebrities come to Pakistan as representatives of charity organisations. “They are doing their job, just like any of our celebrities [who] are abroad doing their job or our cricketers [who] are playing cricket doing their job! The ones who have gone to flood-affected areas on their own accord are actually the ones to commend,” said Hussain on her Instagram story.
Meanwhile, actor Azfar Rehman chose not to attend the awards event in solidarity with Pakistani citizens. Through his Instagram stories, he issued a statement noting his withdrawal from the ceremony as well as apologising to his fans who were expecting to see him in Canada.
“I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters drowning in the floods. Donated my ticket and stay money to the flood relief,” said Rehman.
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)