Some people are surprised that renowned TV channels openly support their favorite political parties; if one channel is inclined toward Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, then other acts as the mouthpiece of the Pakistan Muslim League (N). The same is the case with showbiz stars who have been openly supporting and/or criticizing the new government ever since it took over.
If you think that’s something new, then you need to brush up your skills as a history student, for politics and show business have been together, forever. Be it former President Asif Ali Zardari’s cameo appearance in Waheed Murad’s Salgirah in the 1960s or acting gigs of PPP leaders Fouzia Wahab and Sharmila Faruqi in – Kohr and Panchwan Mausam during the 1990s, things have always been interchangeable between the two fields.
Let’s take a look at some of the noted showbiz stars who have tried their hand at politics, and diversified their resume by either failing or passing.
Film actor Syed Kamal was amongst the top-rated stars in the country in the 1960s and the 1970s. With the arrival of younger men on the block, his romantic days were as good as over even though he continued to play the leading man well into the 1980s. However, it was during the 1985 General Elections that Syed Kamal opted to contest the non-party elections for the first time, and failed to win.
He didn’t stop here and contested in the next handful of elections as an independent candidate, before joining MQM in the latter part of his career. Politics may not have helped him but in 1986, Syed Kamal made Siyasat a film on his political experience which was hailed for its closer-to-reality depiction of the political scenario in the country.
He wasn’t just Pakistan Television’s first announcer, but Tariq Aziz was amongst the first film actors to ‘politicize’ themselves while they were busy as actors. He worked in a couple of films in the 1970s highlighting the plight of the laborers in the country, something that brought him closer to the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. After General Zia ul Haq deposed Bhutto to become the President, Tariq Aziz joined his regime, and it was during those years that his Neelam Ghar went on to become one of the most popular programs in the country.
After Nawaz Sharif emerged as one of the two prime leaders in the country, Tariq Aziz joined Pakistan Muslim League and even became a Member of the National Assembly, but his political career suffered once General Pervez Musharraf removed Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister. Although Tariq Aziz did try to make a comeback to the political scenario by joining Pakistan Muslim League (Q), he was mostly kept on the sidelines.
The veteran actor has been around as an actor, writer, director, and host for nearly 40 years; not many know he began his career as a journalist and was associated with leading newspapers and magazines in the 1980s and 1990s. Going into politics was inevitable, since his early days as a journalist, he had an opinion about everything from sports to politics.
The multitalented artist first became an active member of the Pakistan People’s Party and then contested the General Elections for the Sindh Assembly. Like his fellow actors Shafi Mohammad, Qaiser Khan Nizamani, and Ayub Khosa, Sajid Hasan failed to win the seat but managed to show his community that even if you are a successful actor, you can still serve the country as a politician.
Although he was a late entrant to the showbiz scene, Aamir Liaquat made a name for himself as a religious scholar and a TV host in no time. He used his popularity to his advantage twice – once by getting elected for the National Assembly as an MNA on MQM’s ticket in 2002 and once on PTI’s ticket in 2018. Although he has now left PTI, he is still an MNA and continues to roam around, hoping some party will take him in and use his popularity for their political gain.
Abbas Jafri: Leading fashion model Abbas Jafri has been ruling the fashion industry since 2011 and is known as one of the top models in the country. However, the 30-year-old surprised all by contesting for a seat in the Sindh Assembly in 2018 and winning the General Elections on PTI’s ticket. He can easily be termed as the most handsome person in the Sindh Assembly, and it would be great if some of his colleagues could also join politics, and make Sindh Assembly pleasing to the eyes.
Abrar ul Haq
And then there is Abrar ul Haq, the famous singer from the 1990s who gave countless hits like Billo, Preeto, Nach Majajan, and December to his fans. Contrary to popular belief, he hasn’t won an Election but contested in two on PTI’s ticket. He did try to use his popularity to win the General Elections but both times – in 2013 and 2018 – he lost to Pakistan Muslim League’s Ahsan Iqbal. Like his fierce competitor Jawad Ahmed, Abrar vows to return next year and earn respectability as a politician.
After retirement from films and TV, leading actress Kanwal Nauman joined Pakistan Muslim League (N) in 2008 and was elected on a reserved seat for women in 2013. Although she was part of the ruling party, her health didn’t allow her to be active, and she chose to quit politics in 2018. Her fans are hoping that the versatile actress will soon make a return to either politics or showbiz so that they can see her in action, once again.
And then there were celebrities who couldn’t win General Elections despite being quite popular. One of them is famous film actress Musarrat Shaheen who was part of Urdu and Pushto films during the 1980s and the 1990s, while the other one was TV actress Gul e Rana. While Musarrat Shaheen formed her own party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Masawat to contest elections mostly against Moulana Fazlur Rehman, Gul e Rana tried her hand at politics on PPP’s ticket in 2018 and couldn’t succeed.