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Current Affairs ( 23 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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‘Go Niazi Go’ - Inspired By Daler Mehndi - Aimed At the Imran Khan Niazi Government

By Naila Inayat

22 October 2020

Protest season has begun in Pakistan and the streets are getting warm with the slogans of ‘Go Niazi Go’, aimed at the Imran Khan government.


File photo of PDM rally at Karachi, Oct 2020 | Twitter/@BBhuttoZardari


The call is not only for recycling prime ministers, but the rock concert-like atmosphere of these political protests also recycles old and used slogans, songs, and even DJs.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), is an opposition alliance of 11 parties led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. It is a mix of ideologies, ethnicities, and politics. The spectrum may be wide, but the demand is concise: Imran Khan has to go, and his ‘selectors’ have to decide. And if Khan has to go, then the creative minds behind the non-stop sloganeering have to be sharp and persistent. After all, how did the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) come this far if it weren’t for slogans to oust Nawaz Sharif?

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Some slogans can even get you in trouble, for chanting them in the wrong place or at the wrong time. As it happened in the case of Captain Safdar Awan (retired), the husband of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz. At the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi, Awan recently cheered on a charged crowd by chanting ‘Vote ko izzat do (Give respect to the vote)’ – it was almost like he was convincing Jinnah. And some weren’t impressed. What followed was an FIR against Awan, his arrest and a controversy in which more than 50 Sindh police officers applied to go on leave over the coercion of the Inspector General by paramilitary forces to arrest Awan. All this for chanting a slogan at the wrong place. The slogans violated the sanctity of mausoleum, it was said. The Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar Protection and Maintenance Ordinance, 1971 prohibited all kinds of demonstrations and political activities within the premises. But still, some get away with it, like PTI workers chanting slogans during the visit of chairman Imran Khan to the Mazar in 2013.

The opposition alliance’s favourite slogan for this protest season is ‘Go Niazi Go’. Niazi rings a historical bell because it harks back to the much-despised General A.A.K. Niazi who surrendered before the Indian Army with 90,000 troops in East Pakistan in 1971. But it is also the last name of the current Prime Minister – Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi. The PM dropped ‘Niazi’ from his official name after coming to power in 2018.

However, who can stop the rhyming sloganeers shouting these in every rally: ‘Aik takkay ki du Niazi, Go Niazi Go Niazi’ or ‘Muk gaya tera show Niazi, Go Niazi Go Niazi’. PM Khan was recently forced to leave the national assembly because of the same set of slogans.

Leaders Go, Slogans Remain

Some slogans remain constant, but the main figures change. ‘Go Niazi Go’ was once ‘Go Nawaz Go’, which was once ‘Go Musharraf Go’.

During the 2007 lawyers’ movement that eventually resulted in weakening the Pervez Musharraf regime in Pakistan, several such slogans were made targeting the mighty General. ‘Yeh jo deshatgardi hai, iske pichhay wardi hai (The ones responsible for terrorism are the ones in uniform)’ was coined when terrorism was at its peak in Pakistan. The slogan targeted the failed policies of the military that made a genie out of jihadi outfits, which couldn’t be put back in the bottle.

The same slogan – ‘Yeh jo deshatgardi hai, iske pichhay wardi hai’ – was used years later by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) when it raised its voice against the killings, abductions and ethnic violence in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen faced backlash for raising the wardi slogan and was booked for “anti-state slogans”. While everyone preferred using terms such as ‘Selectors’, ‘Khalai Maklooq’ and ‘Farishtay’ to address those who can’t be named, Pashteen had to face flak.

The other slogans that have struck a chord and remained a political reality for decades include: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan, mang raha hai har insan’, PPP’s ‘Tum kitne Bhutto maro gay, har ghar se Bhutto niklay ga’, PML-N’s ‘Qadam barhao Nawaz Sharif, hum tumhare sath hain’, and from the 2014 PTI protests, ‘Tabdeeli aa nahin rahi, tabdeeli aa gayi hai’. What began as a protest against America-centric politics with ‘Amerika ka jo yaar hai, ghaddar hai ghaddar hai’during the 1980s has now become ‘Modi ka jo yaar hai, woh ghaddar hai’.

Djs, Bollywood And Lead Singers

The political protest rallies have now transformed into festivals, where slogans, speeches, presentation is one element and protest music another. The idea is to keep the audiences enthralled like in any musical concert. Entertainment of those in your rally and those watching at home comes first.

The rules changed with Imran Khan’s PTI using Asif Butt a.k.a. DJ Butt for its political shows during the dharna days of 2014. The idea of mixing national songs with rally speeches to amplify the message was unique and hooked everyone. However, DJ Butt is now the DJ of the opposition alliance this protest season. Why? Because the DJ says that the change ‘Kaptaan’ had promised never happened in Pakistan, so his services are now dedicated to the rival team. It’s another thing that the DJ had complained of unpaid bills earlier.

The protest songs and political anthems are a way to reach not only the protesters, but also your rivals. The PTI’s ‘Rok sako to rok lo tabdeeli ayi’, ‘Banega Naya Pakistan’, the PML-N’s ‘Vote ko izzat do’,and the PPP’s ‘Dilla teer baja’ are used by their loyalists. Sometimes one singer ends up singing the anthems of two different parties for the same election. For example, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, in 2013, sang both PTI’s ‘Chalo, chalo Imran kay saath’ and Nawaz Sharif’s ‘Tum sey apna ye wada hai’.

Some political compositions have been ripped off Bollywood as well, such as ‘Leader sadda Khan hai’ from the 2018 election campaign is from Daler Mehndi’s ‘Na na na na na re’.

But there is one political anthem that Bollywood has copied too: PPP’s ‘Dilla teer bija’, a rendition of Baloch folk music that was released in 1987 during Benazir Bhutto’s first elections and is the party’s anthem to date. The Bollywood version is ‘Mai Na Jhoot Bolun’, which featured in Amitabh Bachchan’s film Indrajeet (1991).

With the Pakistan Democratic Movement gaining momentum, the show will go on with more slogans and more songs that irk those sitting in glass houses.


Naila Inayat is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Views are personal.

Original Headline: ‘Go Niazi go’ to ‘Go Nawaz go’ – Pakistan protests are like a rock concert with songs, DJs

Source:  The Print