PPP leader Sharmila Faruqi has cracked down on Pakistani celebrities (with the notorious exception of Hadiqa Kiani) for not doing enough to help with the floods. In an Instagram post, she shared images of several celebrities in Canada for the Hum TV Awards, which were juxtaposed with photos of Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie in Pakistan.
“Here is Angelina Jolie visiting our worst flood-hit district of Dadu, spreading love and hope and appealing to the international community to ask us for help,” she wrote, sharing pictures of Jolie’s trip to Pakistan, during which she took several people affected by the flood has flooding. Jolie is the Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and served as the goodwill ambassador for the committee for 11 years.
“On the other hand, our Pakistani stars are all in Toronto for the Hum TV Awards, poking fun and ready for some dazzling performances,” she wrote, sharing pictures of Hania Aamir and Farhan Saeed in dance practice, Saboor Aly, Nomi Ansari, Iqra Aziz and Adeel Hussain Edge Walk at the CN Tower in Toronto and Urwa Hocane at a dance rehearsal.
“None of them even bothered to visit a flood-affected area or show solidarity in money or kind, except Hadiqa Kiani, because if you really believe in cultural activities, awards, performances, etc., are our artists and actors second to none,” she wrote. Kiani, the singer, has been very active in raising funds for her charity, Vaseela. She recently announced she will be “adopting” and rebuilding villages in Sindh and Balochistan.
“It would have been a great support if they had all reached out to their compatriots who have lost their homes, lives and livelihoods to the devastating floods. There is a time for everything, to celebrate, to mourn… we have a humanitarian crisis in our country, this is the time to stand by, with them, to hold, to support and to love. Each of us has a responsibility to our nation and its people who have given us so much. It is time for payback,” wrote Faruqi, who was most recently a member of the Sindh Assembly from 2013 to 2018.
While Faruqi’s words ring true – we all have a responsibility to our nation and our people – it is quite unfair to call celebrities when we don’t know what they have been doing in their personal capacity. Kiani has done everything in her flood relief efforts – she has raised funds and items, she has visited areas to distribute those donations and she is now taking responsibility for rebuilding villages. And we are so proud of her for everything she has done and is doing. Jolie’s visit is also to be commended – as is that of Turkish actor Celal Al.
But just because these other celebrities haven’t made their contributions public doesn’t mean they haven’t contributed to the flood relief effort. Lack of visibility doesn’t always mean lack of action.
A portion of the Hum Awards’ ticket sales is also donated to flood relief efforts and, to be fair, attending the Hum Awards is part of their work. Celebrities are often paid to perform at events, so it’s not entirely fair to criticize them for going to Toronto for their work — even if their work looks like a lot of fun.
Many celebrities have and are holding events to raise funds for flood relief such as Uzair Jaswal’s concert in Islamabad, the auction of Fatima and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the auction of his bat by cricketer Naseem Shah. Many have also shared donation links on their social media pages. Yes, it would have been nice if these celebrities had visited flood-affected areas, but as Shehzad Roy pointed out earlier this month, visiting areas right after a natural disaster isn’t always the right course of action. This can delay access for heavy machinery and rescue workers.
That doesn’t mean enough is being done. It definitely isn’t. We need more people like Kiani who go out of their way to help people, but shaming people for doing their job doesn’t seem like the best way forward. We don’t know what they donated and it’s unfair to judge if we don’t know.
If you would like to donate to flood relief efforts in Pakistan, consider one of the organizations on our extensive list.