As Pakistanis, we have always been living within a conundrum. Just as there is a plethora of problems in this country of ours, the issue of national identity has always been at the heart of affairs due to regional and ethnic disparities, along with the numerous cultures we have in Pakistan. I believe that somewhere, the matter of unity or integration has disappeared into insignificance.

Sometimes, I get this idea that the aforementioned issue has taken a turn for the worst possible scenario. So much so that we have started to import cultures, as much as we love to import every other thing. If there is something that we ourselves, as the people of the East, were and in some cases are still proud of, it is our culture. We were dubbed as the people of the land of the pure and I get amused thinking about how sensational our mainstream media was. They used to depict and present our indigenous values in the television, radios and in the music. For instance, our television serials, back in the day, were considered as the best in the business.

It has become a common phenomenon that people from across the borders can be seen admiring our shows. The same goes for music, specifically the band culture in the 90s and early 2000s—it really was a sight to see. As a 90s kid, I can only hope to return to the good old days. As a pop music fanatic, you just couldn’t find anyone producing the same quality of music, anywhere else in the entire world like those born out Junoon, Vital Signs, Fuzon, Aaroh, Entity Paradigm, Strings, Haasil and Salaar, Mizraab, Awaaz, Milestones and the much revered, our very own, Nazia Hassan—the queen of pop not just for Pakistan but for the Subcontinent as well. If they have Madonna, we say we had Nazia.

We know little of people like Faraz Anwar, considered greatly as one of the finest guitarists ever produced by South Asia. Then, there is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mehdi Hassan, who took classic music to another level. Also, how can we forget our Malika-e-Tarannum and Noor Jehan, who was always injecting fuel to the spirit of patriotism with her Milli Naghmay.

The morning shows, perhaps our first ever, which were telecasted back in 1987 by PTV were also extraordinary. Shows like ‘Subah Bakhair’ were hosted by the renowned writer, poet and a vagabond, Mustansar Hussain Tarar. People from all walks of life used to watch that show including the elders, women, adults, children, art lovers, literature lovers because it was so rich in content. There were always new things to be learnt every other day. In fact, children used to call the host Chacha Jee because he used to broadcast cartoons early in the morning and children would watch the cartoons before going off to school. I want to give a special shout out to the late Mr Tariq Aziz, for his show was my most favourite one. I remember, when I used to wait for it in anticipation with my grandfather, and finally when that show used to come up, we both would be glued to the screen.

As much as it hurts me to say this, those days are long gone and we have to live in the present and look forward to the future but here is where the problem arises; the import of cultures that I mentioned above has absolutely diluted and knocked down the originality of our media, drama culture, films, morning shows and music.

The band culture which was booming back in the day has vanished into thin air. There are still some artists nowadays, yes, but they are nowhere near the standard of the old. They are producing music which I can’t even recognise or categorise for that matter. I mean no offense but monotony dominates their output—whether it’s music, dramas or films as well. Now, the same love triangles, shaadi cultures and petty familial issues have become the focus of every other drama and film—it seems like a copy of a copy. Often, it gets hard to distinguish between the script of two different shows. The same has been happening to our music, pop and band culture is nowhere to be seen. Shows like Dhuwan, Dhoop Kinare, and Tanhaiyan, are nowhere to be seen anymore. I wonder what has caused such a shift in the culture of our media. Is it western influence or is it just how we have progressed?