Coke Studio guitarist, Imran Akhoond claims his life is under threat.
Coke Studio, regardless of what you may think of it, has been a big part of our lives for the past 11 years or so. Some of the songs from previous seasons are still on your playlist because they were just THAT good. A big part of the Coke Studio experience is the house band.
One familiar face we’ve all seen is the guitarist, Imran Akhoond.
According to an exclusive by Tribune, Imran faced a serious threat to his life in January which has left the artist shaken.
On the 16th of January, Imran and his family had gotten to Buffer Zone following a death in the family. As Imran was leaving the car, two men approached his car and said the following to him; “Keep looking forward and listen to us carefully. What you are doing is Haraam and against the spirit of Islam. The music you play on TV is backed by Jewish companies and that is also forbidden. I hope you understand what we are trying to tell you.”
Following this unsettling incident, Imran filled out an FIR at a police station, however, despite multiple reminders the police did not file his FIR. According to him, the police had asked him what they should do with his case.
To make matters worse, the police advised Imran to install CCTV cameras and ‘be more mindful of people around’. Yes, the police chose to not pursue Imran’s case, rather put the onus to protect him on Imran, himself. Speaking to Express Tribune, he said, “I belong to the middle class and have been living in an apartment in Gulshan-e-Iqbal for the past 35 years. I can’t afford to hire security and the complacency of the police on this matter is outrageous.” Ever since the incident, Imran has either canceled gigs or only goes if a friend comes to pick him up. He ends his interview with Tribune on this note; ‘This is a matter of my bread and butter. I can’t drive around with my instruments, I have been recording from home as much as I can but there has to be a way out for an artist in this country’.
As Imran himself addresses, this is directly affecting his ‘bread and butter’, since music is his source of income.
Pakistan has struggled with its relationship with music and religion. There have always been groups of people who have opposed music and qawaalis since they’re ‘haraam’. Pakistani music saw a lull in the 2000s when terrorists had threatened to attack music concerts and events- no new music was being created and artists and audiences were terrified. We came out of that situation strong, and have seen a massive amount of growth on the music scene.
The incident with Imran is scary for many reasons, but primarily because the police haven’t been helpful and haven’t extended support. An artist has essentially been threatened into his home, unable to do what he loves.
Yes, this is one instance of an artist being threatened, but the effects have been massive for Imran himself. How do we keep our artists safe againsts such threats? We surely cannot go back to a time where people are afraid to express themselves creatively.
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Cover Photo Courtesy: Cover Studio