Hum TV award week this year coincided closely with elections in Pakistan – naturally, this meant a large number of Pakistani celebrities headed to Canada for rehearsals earlier. This had sparked a major debate on social media, with the public demanding to know why it was so easy for celebs to abandon their ‘civic duty’ in lieu of what most consider a frivolous pursuit in comparison.

What’s more, a petition was circulating online aiming to boycott this year’s awards. The petition is focusing on the ‘hypocrisy’ of Pakistani celebrities:

“We are tired of the hypocrisy of these celebrities who can come in ads portraying patriotism to sell their brands and make money, but who do not even bother to vote when each vote counts the most.”

Farhan Saeed reprimands fellow celebrities for flying out to Toronto at ‘such a crucial time’.

Amidst the inquiries, Hum TV has released an official statement addressing the issue – essentially saying that “since a lot of resources have to be committed for the event it is not possible to change the date”. Hum TV pointed out that the date had been fixed six months in advance. Conversely, Pakistan’s election dates had not been finalized at the time. In fact, deliberation over the exact election date was still ongoing even by the time May rolled around.

However, the issue that needs to be addressed is this – are celebrities perhaps receiving too much backlash for missing out on elections?

Hum TV awards is always a highly publicised, much-anticipated affair. Actors, actresses, directors, and songwriters alike work hard all year to make the nominees – and for some artists, this award show is their “big break”. The competition is fierce and spirits high. Although the two events cannot be compared with respect to magnitude and impact, the effort put into the award show is not unlike that which is invested in the electoral process to make it as successful and smooth as possible.

In fact, Pakistani designer Feeha Jamshed is of the opinion that all celebrities who left to attend the awards ‘also performed their civic duty’. Here is part of a message she posted on Instagram:

Currently, there are two opposing views on social media: the one above and the other one which reiterates that it was ‘careless’ of celebrities to leave the country at the time of voting. However, it is not as simple as that. The more complex question is – why are we dragging our fellow Pakistanis through the dirt at a time when we need to unite ourselves? In fact, the very political parties whose right to support from the public we are apparently fighting for are the ones demanding that people remain united.

We are all doing our part. Yes, it can be argued that precious votes were wasted. But boycotting Hum TV awards will show an insensitivity towards the hard-working creative sector of the country – and believe it or not, creativity can be just as important as politics.

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