The Alhamra Controversy – Ban on NGOs’ Anthem

With the artistes trying to squirm through the narrow legal corridors of partly government-funded cultural institutes, the NGOs have been presenting their own versions of the national anthem. In the absence of any cultural ministry in the country, things already seem hanging in the air. If NGOs generally felt the local anthem was badly presented and came out with their own versions – sorry to say, it didn’t work. Alhamra has banned the NGOs’ version of the national anthem forthwith. From now onwards, in all the functions of Alhamra Arts Council, the administration will play their own anthem.

Well, some biz sleuths say that NGOs had been playing their own anthems for some time now, and why not? After all, arts councils are NGOs themselves, though government grants are given to them every year. So, when Faiz Foundation ran their own version of the anthem during the Faiz International Festival, suddenly, Exec. Director, Lahore Arts Council, Capt. (R) Atta Muhammad Khan got out of his seat like a prick had pierced his skin and he banned the privately-engineered anthem. But, what happened? Was it offensive? Or is it just the same bug of kalafwalley collars feeling uptight over these Socialist mischief-makers! Obviously, nobody could change the wordings or the tune of the anthem. Did some tableau on it cause problem? But, one order from the boss does give you an idea: “Songs changed at the last moment in the plays won’t be allowed!”