“Vulgar” dances banned

I came across this news story in the Daily Times today and I thought I should share this here because we need some solid discussions on issues such as these. Ah Finally!!!! the government is taking some much belated action.

The district government has launched an operation against out-of-script and bawdy dialogue, and ‘vulgar dances’ at various theatres in Lahore on the Punjab government’s directive, said district government officials on Thursday.

Officials said the Punjab government banned actress Nargis for delivering such dialogue and performing a vulgar dance in a play at Mehfil Theatre, on the District Coordination Officer Mian Muhammad Ijaz’s orders.

According to district government officials, actresses did not abstain from such dances in the play titled ‘Jinney Sada Dil Lutia’ even after a warning by the DCO. Nargis, the highest paid stage actress, had introduced vulgar dances, but action could not be taken against her because of her influence, they said, adding that Nargis was back on stage after a couple of days after being banned the last time.

“The performance is detrimental to the norms of society, triggering unrest and creating a law and order situation. The performance corrupted people watching the performance. The Punjab government is convinced that prohibition of such performances is desirable, and there are sufficient grounds to proceed under the Dramatic Performance Act 1876, therefore the government prohibits Nargis’s performance with immediate effect for the spell of this drama,” read the notice served to the actress. Officials said that violation of orders by anybody would result in action in the form of imprisonment or fine or both under Section 4 and 6 of the Dramatic Performance Act 1876. They however said that Nargis could appeal to the Punjab government for the removal of the ban.

23 Comments so far

  1. Haseeb (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 8:11 am

    Yeah..she should just pay out the cops/authorities again and all will be back to normal. I guess its an yearly thing.

  2. Karachiite (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 10:56 am

    First question: The people who would be provoked to riot at the show, why are they buying tickets to watch it?

    Second question: What is it that constitutes vulgarity? The opinion of a mulla will be different from a “normal” person.

    Third question: What the hell is this Act of 1876? This is not British India of the ninteenth century, it is Pakistan of the twenty first century. Hasn’t anyone bothered to update the laws?

  3. Babar (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 4:10 am

    Hey, I guess there are at least a million things we need to talk about before this issue. Why is this so important. I would hate to watch these vulgar dances nor would like my wife or family to see them. But I have a very simple choice in this regard. Just dont waste 500 rupees on the ticket. Much easier than any of the legal action. I guess only problem could be the little kids going there to see nargis in action, but I strongly doubt any kid goes there.
    So let those who wanna watch this studd watch it. Live and let live. Many of the things which we normal people watch on DVD’s may seem vulgar to others.

  4. Momekh (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 8:35 am

    what Babar has suggeseted comes under the oh-so-vast umbrella of indifference. And that, my friend, is the biggest disease there ever was. And the phrase ‘we normal people’ has a very wierd angle to it… normal in itself is a relative term! And that is why we are blessed for being Muslims, really. Because in a world where everything is ‘relative’, we all need a benchmark, a point to compare everything else with. Any philosophy book or a good history book would reveal this fact that humans need a ‘benchmark’. Muslims are blessed because we have a benchmark.

    What is vulgar is vulgar is vulgar.
    If we are immune, we the normal people, if we are immune to watching a couple kiss on screen, that is my friend, a str8 out problem. We can come up with excuses that border towards qualifying as reasons(!!) but at the end of the day, we have a benchmark. Like we should. (forget the fact that the elders tell thier children to cover thier eyes, what about the elders who are already drooling? hehehe!).
    People like Nargis are actually respected for thier ‘craft’, thier craft being no more than being more ‘bendy’ than ‘normal’.
    Regardless what the normal people say, regardless what the Mullah says, regardless what our enlightend Musharaf says, regardless of what we ‘normal’ people thing, we ought to do what is within our power and what we think to be the most just and the most right thing to do…GodBeWilling!

    Peace and God Bless

    P.S. Raza, I think it would be much more appropriate if you just, u know, if you could, like, replace the picture that you have of Nargis, replace it with a more ‘clothy’ pic of her, no? We are talking about trying to minimize vulgarity, so it only makes sense, no? :)

  5. Raza (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    Very well written Momekh. Different people use different excuses to justify these kinds of behaviours but any way you look at it, according to our society, our morals, our religion, our standards, its still vulgar…not matter how many excuses one makes. Now, whatever you watch on DVDs in the privacy of your own rooms is up to you, you can define it vulgar or not vulgar enough for yourselves but when it comes to a societal level, no one has to define what is vulgar and what is not because as Momekh mentioned we, as a Muslim country, have a ‘benchmark’ that cleary defines for us what is vulgar and what is acceptable so we don’t have to run around lost in the grey area.

    PS. Momoekh…I couldn’t find an appropriate pic for Nargis so I have just removed it. Thanks for pointing that out.

  6. ahmad (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 11:57 am

    i agree with baber
    normally the people who criticise punjabi stage drama are the people who don;t mind much more vulgar stuff in indian films and english films
    the urdu press criticises it because it wants a piece of it too
    athe english press criticises it because it has to put up the pretence of westernised pseudo-intellectualism
    but the “benchmark” is not a group morality that comes from following a combined set of ideas. the benchmark should be personal morality. and if in our hearts of hearts we all pine to watch some form of visual sexual stimulation, then religion can never do anything about it. i can assure momekh that manyyy so-called religious RITUALISTS also watch this stuff and much worse.
    so my question to you all is…is this sort of lechery o if it comes from hollywood?

  7. ahmad (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 11:59 am

    and why oh why does musharraf come into everything?
    why must everyone feel it to be their duty to mention him when saying ANYTHING at all?
    it’s sick…this national mentality of yours

  8. Babar (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

    Well Momekh as I said there are a million more issues to be worried about and realy much more serious and ungent ones that these dances do not make to the list for which I am worried about. This is the classical attitude of some of the religious clergy to make issue out of non issue and forget the more important things. ( now dont ask me what are the important issues)
    Secondly , I am not indifferent to what happens around me, and part of that struggle which I undertake is to let people exercise their right to chose what they want to do. After all , all this happens inside a theatre, in closed doors.

    By the way would you suggest what is the benchmark. For me the bench mark is the Taliban style moral code. Seriously I follow that. Would you be ready to enforce people with my morality to enforce it on you. ( I hope you are aware of what it includes and I am pretty sure it excludes most of your daily routines) Dont tell me that the bench mark is different, because for me it realy is the islamic bench mark. I just dont belive in enforcing it on others by power.

  9. Babar (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

    And I would suggest putting up a picture of Nirgis in Burqa

  10. Babar (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    And for the likes of Raza. How many times you raised this issue regarding vulgar performances on stage in Canada. And how do you and other muslim fellows save their faith while all this goes on in theatres on the streets of toronto. I wonder why do they chose to live in such a country.
    When it comes to Pakistanis, Hypocrcy knows no bounds.

  11. Babar (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    By the way Raza ( taking excuse , for being blunt in above discussion), you have some great pictures of Lahore on your website. Thanks for putting them up

  12. sana (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 12:56 pm

    “and why oh why does Musharraf come into everything?”

    Well that’s because he has the stick ( Danda), an illegally obtain one

  13. Raza (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

    Babar – i don’t mind the bluntness of the comment, this is a blog and as long as everyone keeps it clean and appropriate no comment is blunt…everyone has the right to speak their mind. Yes, I do agree with you about the hypocracy of Pakistanis (I would go as far as to say hypocracy of Muslims in general) but I don’t agree with the point you make about raising issues about vulgar performances on stage in Canada. If some Pakistanis living here want to attend those performances we can’t do anything about it because bottom line is that here it is their choice whether in private or in public because the society and the morals most people live by doesn’t demand that here. Those muslims who want to save their Muslim identity would do so at any cost…it doesn’t matter what’s happening in the streets of Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver etc…we safeguard our beliefs, we don’t take our religion for granted, we know we live in a non-Muslim society so we try to create as positive an atmosphere as possible and if one of us is exposed to something like this, we know we have a “benchmark” (yes, a benchmark) to live by. This helps most of us in troubled times. I wouldn’t refute that there aren’t problems here also but not as many as people in “Muslim MAJORITY” countries like to think about.

  14. Raza (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 10:31 pm

    Babar, I am glad that you liked my pics of Lahore. I have been trying to educate myself and as many other people as I can about Lahore…I hope it is working.

  15. momekh (unregistered) on August 6th, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

    @Raza: thankyou for extrapolating…appreciated! :)
    @Ahmad: I have not understood what you have said, even after I read what you have said twice. :) my bad, I know. Raza seems to get it :)
    @Babar: thankyou for your comment. For the record, when I was talking about a benchmark, I was strictly referring to the benchmark of vulgarity, or morality in a more broader aspect. Vulgarity/Morality and Ethics etc can not and should not be denied. Are there bigger issues at hand? Yes. And I should be able to ask you that, and you should be able to answer that by the way. But existance of bigger issues means we just let the little ones bypass us? No. We prioritize, yes. We organize, yes. But vulgarity IS a problem, and in some cases a big one. Raising a voice against it is too much? Writing about it even is too much? Shutting them down then should be banned, no? The logic doesnt pann out. Of course, some clergymen belonging to the ‘classical’ school of thought are part and parcel of what we are, whether we like it or not. (Plz note, when I say clergymen, I am not talking about your typical ‘mullah’ for whom wearing jeans by male members of the society is haraaam. etc etc).

    And about your view of the Islamic society-level benchmark bieng the Taliban is highly, highly unfortunate. You, like me, need to research on this a bit more my friend. :). Islam, to the best of my limited knowledge, has as much to with Taliban as it has to with us Pakistani; minimal and name-sake.
    God Bless us all. Aameen

  16. Atan (unregistered) on August 18th, 2006 @ 5:49 am

    Raza, the question is despite no enforcement of the ‘benchmark’ in Canada or any other Western countries, you as well as millions of other Pakistanis live there. I assume that vulgarity in Canada and in other Western countries does not compromise you in any way. If it did you would not elect to live in Canada and you point out that good Muslims seal themselves from amoral behaviour.

    Therefore why the need for enforcement in Pakistan? Is it because you feel that some Muslims will fall short in Pakistan, if so why will they not fall short in Canada.

    You live in a secular society, as well as millions of other Muslim. It follows therefore that secularism does not compromise Muslims – If it does why so many ( including yourself ) elect to live in the West and many more would ‘elect’ to move to the West, by boat, by plane, by truck and even walk there if they could – Only tight immigration control frustrates them when all are cognizant of the loose morals found in the West.

    The contradiction – electing to live in the secular West whilst in Pakistan jumping up and down on the slightest freedom is hypocracy!

    If indeed the lack of societal benchmark was so corrosive on a Muslim then it would be Haram to live in the West.There is dichotomy here – living in the West and crying about ‘provocative dancing’ in Lahore.

    If these acts are so unhealthy on Muslims in Lahore then why are they any less unhealthy in Canada where you will find similar acts and then some more.

    And yes I am a Pakistan Muslim living in the ‘West!!!

  17. Dee (unregistered) on August 20th, 2006 @ 3:29 am

    ATAN: Very well written post :).I am shaking my head as i also live abroad and you are right someone existence of strip clubs and public sign of affection(kissing etc) does not bother me enough to jump up and down but when i do found about these in pakistan i tend to jump(use sky dive) up and down.
    I am still thinking what you said but i havent come up with reason ,Yet.
    Note :i am going to use your post on KMB as there is a discussion going on about above issues.It will be posted under *Making* Aug 2006.

  18. Atan (unregistered) on August 20th, 2006 @ 7:27 am

    Thanks Dee. I would like a secular Pakistan but in any discussion with fellow Pakistan’s all living in the West I tend to get a hostile reaction.

    What I can’t fathom is :-

    1. If Secularism does degrade Muslim values why do so many Muslims live in the West through free will.

    2. If it is a established fact that indeed Secularism corrodes Muslim values and promotes amoral conduct then this fact should out weigh any other benefits gained in living the West, economical or otherwise and as a natural corollary of this all Muslim should boycott the West and head forthwith back home – The Mullahs ought to issue a Fatwa in this regard.

    3. Given the whining and moaning about the irreligious West that is so widespread in Pakistan why do so many line up outside Western Embassies – Indeed I would suspect 55% of Pakistan would move lock,stock and barrel to the West if immigration allowed them to do so.

    4. Given these facts a) That millions of Muslims out of their own volition live in the West b) more will head their given the opportunity the only logical conclusion I can make through their acts ( rather then why they say ) is that it is acceptable to live in a secular country.

    5. So if it is fine for a Muslim to live in Secular West why would it be bad to live in a Secular Pakistan – Is there something in the air in Pakistan that would make secularism deadly?

    6. To put is simply Atan can live happily in the Secular West but Atan in a Secular Pakistan would turn into a crazed sexual rabid dog?

    I suppose one explanation might be that those Muslims who go to the West are of ‘special stock’ and ‘immune’ to the devilish forces that prevail in the West.Those of us living in the West are able to ‘seal’ ourselves and are able to exercise control over our wanton desires – But those Muslim left in Pakistan are of a lesser calibre and would go berserk in a Secular Pakistan and rip society.

    ……….. Of course the above is as true as flying frogs – Ha Ha Ha!!!

  19. bevkenward (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 1:22 am

    Hello Lahore

    I have read the comments here with much interest .

    I am an English female and have been invited to take up a placement with an organisation dedicated to the empowerment of disenfranchised women.

    Some of the postings have caused me some disquiet as I live in a culture where artistic freedom is protected at all costs.

    I pose two questions:

    1) India is fast becoming one of the most significant forces in the global economy. Can – and should – Pakistan have a similar aspiration?

    2) Should I accept the placement or will it be too difficult for a Western woman to live and work in Lahore?

  20. Atan (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 3:24 am

    Hello Bevkenard I live in UK so I am not the best qualified to answer your questions.

    First and foremost Pakistan is part of the Third World so expect to find significant differences as would be expected in any Third World country.

    This business about the so called ‘vulgar dances’ has been around for a long time. Holier than thou crowd will moan and cry but these dances cater to a demand and they will always be there.

    As far as India I think Pakistan cannot and never will be as significant as India is.Its a case of simple Maths – India has some 1,080 million people whereas Pakistan’s population is 155 million.Thats a difference of 7 times. For every Pakistani there are 7 Indians.

    India is perhaps getting on to being 20% of the world population so clearly numbers alone dictated certain consequences.India is a union of some 26 states, one of them alone ( Uttar Pradesh ) is bigger then Pakistan.

    Therefore to compare India with Pakistan or for Pakistan to dream of standing tall with India is absurd – India should be compared with population heavyweights like China.

    Or comparing UK with USA/Canada/Australia/NZ and possibly France thrown in.

    However what I am concerned is the per capita values – On that front Pakistan has less poor, is cleaner, people live in better housing are in better health than in India.

    As far as placement goes I don’t think you will have as many problems as what you think – Media blows things out of proportion.

    If you do and I hope you do take the placement do travel to Northern Areas of Pakistan, in particular take a drive along the KKH – You will be treated to some of the most mind bending scenery that earth can offer, with some of the highest mountains in the world … And as a bonus you will find the locals very, very friendly.

    I must stop … I am sounding like a Pakistan PR Ministry spokesperson.

  21. Raza (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 4:17 am

    Hello Bevkenard,

    Thanks for your visiting and expressing your interest in the posts. Actually Atan has done an excellent job at explaining the differences between India and Pakistan in terms of economy and population and size differences, for which I am very thankful to him because I won’t have to write about that. Economically speaking, it would be prudent to compare Pakistan with countries of similar population size and resources, of which I can’t think of many at this time, except for maybe Bangladesh.

    As far as living conditions in Lahore are concerned, as mentioned by Atan already, it is much more cleaner than India (generally) and population density is much more agreeable as well. Summers, however; are extremely hot and temperatures can reach upwards of 50C. Keeping that aside, Lahore is by no means devoid of foreigners and not just tourists but also many who work and live in Lahore. Many of them live in posh areas of Lahore as surrounding enviroments in those are usually more condusive to foreigners than for example in the old city or the old suburbs. By condusive, I mean that many of the edcuated, english speaking, modern (western ideology) people live in those areas and thefore foreigners usually have an easier time relating to them. However, you don’t get a real taste of Lahori life if living in those areas.

    As far as taking a job placement is concerned, I believe you should not have any problems as long as you can adjust to a different culture. And as for your reservations about freedom of certain practices, you have to keep in mind that moving to this part of the world requires a whole new lesson in cultural understading. As you know South Asia, by itself is very much conservative (at least on paper) and Pakistan being a Muslim country that conservatism is sometimes a bit more (that was the point of this post here). What one has to understand is that one person may consider something artistic and another at the same time might not and this is what one should hopefully apply to different cultures too. I hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings for you. If you would like to learn more about Lahore, its history, its sights, I maintain a website for that purpose which you are welcomed to visit.

    Digital Photography by Raza Noor

  22. Raza (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 5:05 am

    Hello Atan,

    Thanks for your comments on this post. I really enjoyed your well researched and thought out ideas. However, if I may point out one thing…it is that you are missing the actual point of the post and trying to make it a clash between living in the west or the Muslim world. Secularism or non-secularism wasn’t for a momment a point of this post…anyways, the point you are making is that secularism has to do with turing a blind eye to vulgarity and depravity that exists in the society and comparing that to freedom, then I am afraid that you are sadely mistaken. Living in secular west and jumping up and down on this type of freedom in Pakistan is not hypocracy, it is that love for that country one has that you cannot forget no matter how long you have lived in the west. It is that love for your society that you hope to shade from these kinds of practices. Sure living in the west does expose you to a lot of depravity like this and no one said that people living here are not affected by this. Yes there is an effect of some sort but taking a point from your secularist views, people here would only be affected on an individual level (this is what secularism is all about…individuality…not vulgarity and depravity). Now when you look at Pakistan, notions of individuality either do not exist or are very rare and therefore anything such as this there affects not at an individual level but at a societal level. You cannot change a people overnight. It is these notions of community and family that even stick to most of us when we come to the west and you cannot just abandon that instantly and champion the cause of individuality just because we for now live in secular west. Countries such as Canada and the US are secular but even they don’t turn a blind eye to the depravity like this (Europe in general maybe what you may call super secular and very liberal in terms of these issues and maybe thats why I cannot understand your point about secularism). I am not saying that this type of vulgarity doesn’t exist here in North America, it does…but there are rules and regulations with regards to it. Definitely, if some one puts up a strip club close to residentail areas or starts walking around the streets naked, most people here would have problem with that too (SO, THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT A MULLAH THING…I must speak for them here…though I am not very fond of them either). In country, such as Pakistan, where the government or the authorities cannot police such things or regulate them (first of all, generally society wouldn’t allow it to be set up in the first place, and secondly negligence of the government in almost all sectors of the law means that people who are the perpetrators have almost a free reign and on the other hand the general public feels that if the government can’t do it then they are responsible for policing or “getting rid” of such activites) it becomes very difficult to support your arguments for allowing this and making such behavior “OK”…doesn’t matter if secularism exists or not. And lets face it, Pakistan will always be a Muslim country, Alhamdulillah, and whether secular or not, you will be very hard pressed to find many in Pakistan who will be supportive of this kind of behaviour.

    As for many muslims living in the west out of there free will, I will beg differ from you with this regard. Many muslims do come to the west for a better future for themselves and their familes and that may be in terms of finances or education. This is the best they have available at the moment and as Muslims, I am sure you would know that they cannot turn down oppurtunities provided by God Almighty for their betterment without due cause. You did try to offer a reasoning against coming here for financial reasons (that depravity or the potential for moral degradation that exists here outweighs any potential benefits)…I find your argument to be very shaky at best….first of all, how can you judge that for every other Muslim and second of all that is like saying if one cow out of your flock gives bad milk, you stop drinking milk….no…you set that cow aside and enjoy and bounty and goodness of all that is in the rest of your cows (i know its a wierd way of making a point but nevertheless it does do the job…if you are concerned about the depravity here, don’t pay attention to it and focus your efforts on enjoying the good that is in society here).

    As for your last point: 6. To put is simply Atan can live happily in the Secular West but Atan in a Secular Pakistan would turn into a crazed sexual rabid dog?

    I don’t think anyone was trying to make this point saying that Muslims living in the west are better than those living in Muslim countries, this is simply your assumption. The simple point was that in the west it would only affect Atan but in secular Pakistan (secular has nothing to do with vulgarity!!!) it would have its effects on a societal level, which believe it or not, our society is not equiped to handle at this point or at any point in the foreseeable future unless things change dramatically. This is the reality.

  23. Atan (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 3:50 am

    Raza, I don’t have time to cover every point raised in your post – I will go into further detail at the earliest opportunity.

    My contention is simple – That for economic or other gain millions of Muslims move to the secular West and then most become residents there.

    The question is does secularism endanger,dilute,degrade or compromise these Muslims.

    Clearly if it does continued Muslim migration or residency in the secular West ought to carry a ‘health warning’.Furthermore I would argue continued residence in the secular West should be ceased, the argument that they ( Muslims ) are there for economic or other reasons does not hold since a Muslim’s faith and Islam supersedes any worldly advantage. Islam is not to be looked at from cost/benefit angle – You do realise I don’t believe that Islam or Muslims are in any danger or that Muslims compromise themselves by living in the West – I am, as it were playing the ‘devils advocate’.

    You agree with me that living in secular country does not compromise a Muslim and many millions of other Muslims also tacitly agree to this in that they are resident in secular countries- Be that Canada or any other is irrelevant.

    So a simple fact is self evident – secularism does not degrade Muslim’s and their faith – Islam.

    So the crux of my contention,why would secularism be lethal in Pakistan and degrade the faith of 96% of that country?

    I will further develop on this in my next post – Salaam.

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