In April I took a trip to Pakistan, and found a fascinating story. Before leaving, popped up the road to speak to a few friends at the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank located fairly close to Prospect’s offices. My intention was to discuss the Government’s recently launched CONTEST II strategy, designed to counter radical groups. Instead, talking to one of their researchers, came accross a fascinating story – a Pakistani pop band called Laal, whose lead singer and guitarist were British based Pakistani academic marxists, had somehow gone from being complete unknowns to become the biggest band in Pakistan when one of their songs had been played regularly on Pakistani television during the time of the anti-government protests in March of this year.
I dug into the story a bit, and found it got better, taking in the first political YouTube sensation in Pakistan as well as an insurgent TV station. GEO TV was banned by President Musharraf, but now has an influence stretching as far as the UK, as British Pakistanis in places like Blackburn and Luton increasingly consumed media produced not in the UK, but in Pakistan itself. The result is a feature in this month’s magazine, entitled The Real News from Pakistan, which tries to tell the story of Laal, GEO TV, and the way in which television is opening up Pakistan, a society long shrouded in political, moral and relgious censorship. Hope you enjoy, leave any comments below as ever.