Q1: You recently stated in the press that MQM leader Altaf Hussain has threatened you on a number of occasions. Have you ever taken a legal action against him? If not, why? If yes, what happened?
Salman Ahmad: Altaf Hussain is not courageous enough to threaten me directly…he gets his goons to do the dirty work.The first time I was threatened by the MQM was in the early 1990’s when their armed activists told me to go on stage and welcome their then local leader Azeem Tariq at the KMC sports complex. When i refused they threatened to abduct my wife and children. Then they called my house repeatedly and told my father and wife that they will shoot me if I continue to perform in Karachi. I took the threat very seriously and called the Sindh police who sent officers to protect my family residence. I didn’t make it a public issue then because the media was also intimidated by the MQM unlike the Pakistani media now which is strong and independent.
I discussed the matter with legal counsel and everyone told me that no court would be strong enough to stand up to the MQM’s fascist tactics. My friends told me that since I’m a nationally known figure these thugs would be taking a huge chance at attacking me or my family for such a stupid reason.
They did however disrupt many Junoon concerts at (REX) Hashoo auditorium when armed members of their student wing APMSO gate crashed,fought with private security guards and terrorized women, children and families by firing shots in the air and shouting party slogans.
Unfortunately these threats have always been there and most artists have given into these terror tactics because of fear just like all the other citizens of Karachi all through the 1990’s right upto the present bloodbath of May 12.
Another time I got a call from nine zero was from a guy called “Khalid bin Walid” who said that his “quaid” Altaf Hussain had personally demanded me to appear with Junoon at his “ghyabana walima” in Karachi followed by the one in London.When I refused to comply he told me that “aap nay iss shehr mein rehna hai ya nahin, yeh merey quaid ka Order hai” I refused and had no choice but to contact the federal govt. which provided Junoon with security at our Karachi concert. My security officer Hasnain and even my sound engineer, Ishtiaq, were told to convince me to perform at the walima where other artists were also hustled into going because of MQM’s reputation of terror.
Junaid Jamshed and Sajid Hassan told me that these people are dangerous and not to be taken lightly. My response to them was that If I gave into these threats then all the songs that I have composed like “JAZBA-E-JUNOON, TALASH, EHTESAAB, MERI AWAZ SUNO, NO MORE, AZADI,MEIN KAUN HOON ETC would all be blatant lies…
Q2: Do you acknowledge the fact that MQM is a major party in Sindh?
Salman Ahmad: My mother’s family also came from Patiala, India in 1947. Some of my relatives lost their lives and all their possessions during partition. They shed blood for a Pakistan which they hoped would give them human rights, protection and a home for their children to grow up in Peace and prosperity. Its for this reason that initially I supported the MQM, but when I saw their politics of terror, violence and coercion, I was disillusioned by them. After seeing the blood bath of MAY 12, Muslims killing Muslims, I’m forced to ask these questions: For how long will these parties continue to threaten the new generation of Pakistanis who are Pakistanis first and Sindhi, Punjabi, Mohajirs, Pathan, Baloch second. For how long will they arm young students with T.T. pistols and other weapons and teach them to kill rather than educate them. Is this the Pakistan they want for their children to grow up in? My appeal to the MQM and all the other political parties who believe in terror and violence is to listen to the voice of change: LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS and let us all help build a new Pakistan, a Pakistan of Peace,Justice and prosperity… A Pakistan which openly celebrates its beautiful and diverse people.
Q3:You have also stated that, “I think the time has come for all Pakistanis to stand up and be counted.” Are you planning to take any action other than the statement you have sent out?
Salman Ahmad: I’m an artist first and my work speaks louder than my words: From DIL DIL PAKISTAN to GHOOM TANA I have always had strong political views which have been reflected through my music and films… Whomsoever helps Pakistan become a strong,just and Peaceful country will always get my support.As a U.N. goodwill ambassador I have an added responsibility to promote HIV. Aids awareness and a global vision of peace, tolerance and coexistence. Pakistan is an integral part of this vision.
Q4: You are friends with Imran Khan. Are you unbiased or are you working in support of Tehrik-e-Insaf?
Salman Ahmad: Like I said I’ll support anyone who serves Pakistan’s interests and not their own.
Q5: You have always been a strong supporter of President Pervez Musharraf. What is your view of his behavior regarding MQM and what happened on May 12 in Karachi?
Salman Ahmad: President Musharraf will be judged by the legacy he leaves behind, Its in his interest and Pakistan’s that he keeps the will of the people his highest priority. There should be a strong independent commission which should look into the causes of the tragedy of May 12th. Pakistani blood is not cheap…. each one of the killers should be brought to justice and May 12th, “Bloody Saturday” should be a reminder to all, that, Pakistanis will NEVER surrender to terror and violence.
Q6:All over the world, musicians often get involved in politics. You have made a political statement. Do you think Pakistani musicians should get involved in politics?
Salman Ahmad: Its not for me to say what other artists should do,but this is a time for all Pakistanis to stand up and be counted.You have to ask yourself: will I always live in fear and be a slave in someone’s fiefdom…OR will I express my true “Khudi” and fly like Iqbal’s “Shahine” to discover my highest potential.
Q7:Are you planning on making a song about this May 12 carnage?
Salman Ahmad: Music, poetry and a guitar are far more powerful than guns, bombs and bullets. Sabir Zafar and I wrote the song “Junoon sey aur Ishq sey miltee hai Azaadi, Qurbani ki bahon mein miltee hai Azadi” for the movie, Jinnah. In this, Pakistan’s 60th anniversary of independence,
I’d like to dedicate those words to the Martyrs of May 12 who shed their blood for the sake of Jinnah’s dream…