Sharmila Faruqi calls out celebrities attending the Hum TV Awards instead of visiting flood-affected areas

Sharmila Faruqi calls out celebrities attending the Hum TV Awards instead of visiting flood-affected areas

Each of us has a responsibility to our nation, she said, sharing pictures of Angelia Jolie's visit and comparing them with pictures of celebrities in Toronto for the award show.
22 Sep, 2022

PPP leader Sharmila Faruqi has gone after Pakistani celebrities (with the noted exception of Hadiqa Kiani) for not doing enough for flood relief. In an Instagram post, she shared pictures of several celebrities in Canada for the Hum TV Awards juxtaposed with photos of Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie in Pakistan.

“Here is Angelina Jolie visiting our worst flood affected district Dadu, spreading love and hope, appealing to the international community to come for our help,” she wrote, sharing pictures of Jolie’s trip to Pakistan during which she has met several people affected by the floods. Jolie is the special envoy for the UN refugee committee, the UNHCR, and served for 11 years as a goodwill ambassador for the committee.

“On the other hand, are our Pakistani shining stars all in Toronto for Hum TV awards, making merry and ready for some scintillating performances,” she wrote, sharing pictures of Hania Aamir and Farhan Saeed at dance practice, Saboor Aly, Nomi Ansari, Iqra Aziz and Adeel Hussain at the Edge Walk at the CN Tower in Toronto and Urwa Hocane at a dance practice.

“Not a single one of them even bothered to visit any flood affected area or show any solidarity in cash or kind except for Hadiqa Kiani, for one truly believe in cultural activities, award shows, performances etc, our artists and actors are second to none,” she wrote. Kiani, the singer, has been very actively campaigning for donations for her charity organisation Vaseela. She recently announced that she would be “adopting” villages in Sindh and Balochistan and rebuilding them.

“It would have been a great support if all of them had reached out to their fellow countrymen who have lost their homes, lives and livelihood to the devastating floods. There is a time for everything, to celebrate, to mourn… we have a humanitarian crisis in our country, this is the time to stand by them, with them, to hold, support and love them. Each one of us has a responsibility towards our nation and its people who have given us so much. It’s payback time,” wrote Faruqi, who last served as a member of the Sindh Assembly from 2013 to 2018.

While Faruqi’s words ring true — we all have a responsibility towards our nation and people — it is rather unfair to call celebrities out when we do not know what they have done in their personal capacities. Kiani has gone above and beyond when it comes to her flood relief efforts — she has collected funds and items, she has gone to visit areas to distribute those donations and she is now undertaking the responsibility of rebuilding villages. And we are so proud of her for everything she has done and is doing. Jolie’s visit is also to be commended — as is that of Turkish actor Celal Al.

But just because these other celebrities haven’t made their contributions public, doesn’t mean they haven’t contributed to flood relief efforts. Lack of visibility doesn’t always mean lack of action.

A portion of ticket sales from the Hum Awards is also going to be donated to flood relief efforts and, not to put too fine a point on the issue, attending the Hum Awards is part of their jobs. Celebrities are often paid to appear at events, so to criticise them for going to Toronto for their work — even though their work might look like a lot of fun — isn’t entirely fair either.

Many celebrities have and are holding events to raise funds for flood relief, like Uzair Jaswal’s concert in Islamabad, Fatima and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s auction and cricketer Naseem Shah’s auctioning of his bat. Many have also been sharing donation links on their social media pages. Yes, it would have been nice if these celebrities had visited flood-affected areas, but as Shehzad Roy pointed out earlier this month, visiting areas directly after a natural disaster is not always the right course of action. It can result in delaying access for heavy machinery and rescue officials.

That’s not to say enough is being done. It definitely isn’t. We need more people like Kiani, who are going out of their way to help people but shaming people for doing their jobs doesn’t seem like the best way to go about it. We don’t know what they have donated and it’s unfair to judge unless we do.

If you want to donate to flood relief efforts in Pakistan, consider one of the organisations on our extensive list.