We see him on television as the leading man in dramas and now films, as well as dancing his heart out at awards functions and shows. But there is a another, more secret side to the actor that we were all unaware of until recently … when we saw him setting up and promoting a ‘Wall of Kindness’ for Karachi’s underprivileged lot, as well as other acts of charity and goodwill on social media. Suddenly, we realised there was a more humane side to Ahsan Khan as well and Images on Sunday got in touch with him to discuss it at length.
Q. What made you set up the Wall of Kindness in Karachi and that too on main M.A. Jinnah Road rather than Clifton/Defence?
According to facts and figures, the initiative started from Iran and soon it was all over the social media with anyone and everyone talking about it. I took the effort undertaken earlier in Peshawar and reported in the print and electronic media while keeping factors in mind such as the concentration of underprivileged population and literacy ratio in Karachi.
The reason I opted for M.A. Jinnah Road was due to my exposure to the vicinity during my film shoot for Chupan Chupai. The volume of traffic and pedestrians is the highest here according to my calculations. It is the best place to promote such a charitable drive.
Do you just provide clothes or other items of use as well?
We provide various other items as well which are useful other than just clothes such as footwear, bags, mattresses, blankets, bed sheets. It all depends on what we receive at the Wall, or what I can arrange on my own.
Do you work alone or as a team?
Well, I started it on my own but I have been spreading the word around and friends and followers have been really generous in helping me out in every way.
How has the response been so far?
The motivating factor for me has always been spreading goodwill, irrespective of response. Mostly people think but don’t act. Change doesn’t happen on its own. It requires effort and that’s what I’m more focused on.
Any other ongoing acts of charity/social rehabilitation?
The one thing I would like to point out here is that I am trying to start a roadside school (Jhoparpatti School) for deserving kids.
Has the showbiz community responded by wanting to participate?
Quite a few of them are involved in charitable causes on their own. As far as the Wall of Kindness is concerned, I haven’t approached any of my fellow colleagues so far. Therefore I am not in a position to comment on their participation.
What kind of response do expect from the common man?
Our society needs a better, safer, more literate and morally-driven environment; irrespective of regional or religious differentiation. The good needs to spread. We need to make a better place for our kids and for other people’s kids, too. Change begins at home. Everyone in their own capacity must make an effort to cater to the basic needs for the underprivileged. The act of giving needs to be promoted. Even giving a smile to someone is an act of kindness.
You mean we lack compassion as a nation?
Sadly, yes. In fact we lack quite a few other things than just compassion, and the main reason is ignorance. We need to get educated and educate others around us as well. And by education I don’t mean a degree. We need to get to know about morals, ethics and mannerisms, and most important of all being good human beings. I blame the sociopolitical crisis in the country as the root cause of our indifference and ignorance. The goons are becoming stronger as compared to the people promoting a worthy cause.
How do you plan to take things further?
I’m not planning any big leaps or setting up a charitable organisation. I only do what I can manage and I spread the word around if anyone wants to lend a helping hand, without any kind of pressure.
Anyone and everyone can be a philanthropist. It doesn’t require a degree but a state of mind. I learned this from my mum. She wasn’t highly educated but she used to teach the Holy Quran and other subjects to our domestic workers, as well as providing them with clothes, etc. I also remember my father telling his friend off for giving his driver tea in a different cup.
How has the social media helped you in your cause?
It has played a major role in getting the word out and to the masses. It is vital to realise that social media can be used either to promote negativity or positivity. So why not promote something which is beneficial for all, and for a better today and an even better tomorrow.
Originally published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, April 24th, 2016