In a country where violence is now a daily occurence, where innocent civilians are an everyday casualty, there is an increasing realization that the power to change that reality lies in the hands of Pakistanis. Last week, Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, outlined a strategy for battling terrorism in Pakistan, which includes a media campaign explaining “the importance to Pakistan’s people of winning the war against extremists in the tribal areas.” A feature in today’s Washington Post noted,
The television advertisement that debuted this week starts with a simple scene: A mother is waiting on a street corner for her child to get out of school. It looks like any other sunny day in any one of Pakistan’s major cities. Then the car bomb explodes. The grisly scene is followed by a simple message delivered by a series of glamorous-looking Pakistani celebrities, including movie stars, singers and artists: “We are not terrorists.”
This is not a new message, but it comes at a time of increasing urgency. The fundamental message behind last year’s hit song, “Yeh Hum Naheen,” [This is not us], that Pakistanis do not support terrorism, has been reignited within this context. Featuring the vocal talents of some of Pakistans biggest music artists, including Haroon, Ali Haider, Ali Zafar, Shufqat, Strings, Shuja Haider and Hadiqa Kiani, “the song of reconciliation, a message of peace and a message of truth,” became so popular that it was re-released this past June with a petition urging Pakistanis who condemn terrorism to join the cause. Currently, the foundation’s website reports that 62,809,427 people have signed this petition [click here to sign].
The campaign’s founder, Waseem Mahmood, told The Independent, “The reality is, a few people are distorting Islam to their own agendas, but now, finally, the masses are standing up…If we have 60 million plus people, twice as many as voted in the last elections, then how can Pakistan be seen as a nation of extremists?” [See Yeh Hum Naheen song with English subtitles, below]:
The foundation’s message is further enhanced through a broader multimedia campaign, including billboards, television commercials, and advertisements, [see below]. Its work is further proof that this current war against militancy and terror, is our war.