Last week, the talented Anwar Maqsood  enthralled Karachiites with his wit and humor and at the same time, ripped apart the curtain which revealed the tragedies of the shattered dreams of our founding fathers, who created Pakistan for the Muslims of India.

The title of the satire, which was preformed at Karachi Arts Council for almost two weeks to capacity crowd, indicated what to expect and Anwar, with his usual dexterity and skill, presented to the audience a subtle blend of laughter, tears, guilt and sorrow.

But then, Anwar has been entertaining us with his unique talent to blend comedy with tragedy for many years, both on TV and the stage. Whether he is compereing a program or is the star, he is always enjoyable to watch.

His weekly TV program, Loose Talk, with the late Moin Akthar, who I considered to be the Peter Sellers of Pakistan, was pure entertainment, soon becoming a household favorite and was watched and enjoyed at home and abroad by young and old.        

The scripts were always written by Anwar and Moin used to do full justice to the lines given to him. Whether it was a Memon, Arab, American or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Moin would dress up for the part, adopt the necessary accent and give a masterful and memorable performance, having the viewers in stitches.   

On several occasions, Anwar, Moin and their friends were kind enough to participate in Helpline Trust’s fund raising programs and just the name of the two on the invitation card would guarantee the success of the program.

I was in America at the time and was shocked and saddened when I learnt of Moin’s sudden and tragic death. Pakistan lost a great artist and Anwar, a friend and a partner.  

Much has already been written about the play and the cheats and forgers of this land of the Pak and the Pure, who did not even spare Anwar’s ‘Pawnay 14 August’.

We had bought tickets for the 3rd and had been advised to reach the Arts Council early in order to get good seats. As such, we reached the KAC by 7.30 and were surprised to learn that the organizers had been forced to lock the gates, as the auditorium was already full.

This naturally created an ugly situation and led to unruly behavior. We learnt that the situation inside the hall was just as bad, as many people with tickets were without seats.

A friend of mine, who had managed to get inside, said that things began to turn ugly, when those standing in the hall started protesting and shouted that they will not allow the show to go on.

Finally, Anwar Maqsood came on stage and tried to appease the angry crowd, but one person verbally abused Anwar and called him a fraud and demanded an apology, which AM immediately made.

But the vocal and angry protester demanded a written apology, to which Anwar again agreed. He apologized for the inconvenience and assured them that they would be refunded the money if they wished and be given free passes for the other shows.

He explained that fake tickets had been printed and sold, thus creating this unfortunate situation, which had remained ugly until one lady from the audience was gracious enough to give up her seats, so that the show could go on.

This timely intervention on the part of the lady resolved the issue and she her family and others like her, left the auditorium to a standing ovation from the audience, while the angry gentleman calmly sat in the vacated seats and smugly watched the show.

It was unfortunate that easy going, soft-spoken Anwar had to go through this ugly situation, as he had no role in the management of the program and was only responsible for writing the script.

Seeing the no win situation, I suggested that we accept the fact and have our tickets revalidated for the 10th. Expecting a similar situation, we once again decided to reach the auditorium early and though there was a rush, it was not too bad and we did manage to get good seats.

The play is set in present-day Pakistan and revolves around an imaginative scene in the waiting lounge of the Karachi airport, where Quaid-e-Azam, Maulana Shaukat Ali and Allama Iqbal are visiting Pakistan on March 23, to see what has become of their dream of a progressive and tolerant Pakistan.

As they wait in the lounge, they meet and interact with an assortment of characters, including Veena Malik, a Bengali, a lady flying to Dubai to see Gen PM for a “private corner meeting”, a PTI supporter and a burqa-clad JI female worker.

The tall and lanky Umer Sultan gave a convincing performance as the Quaid, with powerful facial expressions, while Talal Jillani as Iqbal and Aamer Agha, who playing Maulana Shaukat Ali, all gave a sterling performances.

The sad message of the play was that the dream and vision of our founding fathers had been replaced with the nightmare that is Pakistan today.

Even Quaid’s clarion call of Faith, Unity, Discipline has been abandoned and though it had been replaced with the popular Roti, Kapra Makan slogan by the PPP’s founding father, that too has also remained unfulfilled.

Instead of implementing and enforcing the rule of law, the government adopted the Self Above All policy and allowed Pakistan to become a most dangerous country to live in.     

Today, most people in the West view Quaid’s Pakistan as a dangerous, unstable, dysfunctional state, struggling with terrorism and religious conflict, on the verge of imminent collapse governed by corrupt politicians and an out-of-control military.

And the final nail that stirred the conscience of the audience before the end, was Mr. Jinnah’s angry and painful speech, in which he expressed his disappointment and sorrow as to what we have done to his Pakistan.

This was immediately followed by the National Anthem. And there was a spontaneous reaction from the audience, as we all stood up as one, with heads hung down in shame and guilt of today’s Pakistan and there was not a single dry eye in the auditorium. Well done, Anwar Maqsood.