I would like to quell any confusion that may have arisen as a result of my recent interview to the Express Tribune. I would like to say at the outset that this split did not occur because of personal differences. Nor is it driven by the desire to continue as the lead singer of Laal. As early as 2010, when Taimur had made it clear that he wished to become the vocalist I wrote to him on various occasions and said that “I consider myself, and would always consider myself, a foot soldier of the movement: the quest for social change that had been lit by Faiz and Jalib.”
When the band was formed in 2008 it was obvious that we would utilize it as a platform for building awareness on issues pertaining to the rights of the oppressed, exploited and downtrodden sections of the society. It was an opportunity to present the message to a wider audience. We were not vying for supremacy in the music industry; we were trying to galvanize the youth into a movement. The driving force was revolution, not personal popularity. The degradation of Laal as a movement and its conversion into a commercial cacophony propelled its most committed revolutionary young intellectuals to ask, and legitimately so: Where is the revolutionary movement that we sought to create? Is performing on fashion shows the way of creating it? Is selling T shirts the goal that we had set upon ourselves? I received hundreds of thousands of messages from friends and fans regarding my absence from Laal and its degeneration and decided, about 8 months ago to present the truth to the people. However, my comrades from the Laal Brigade told me that a statement would completely obliterate any work that they had managed to do using Laals platform. I heeded their advice and remained silent. My silence was a product of the decision of the collective will of my comrades and so is my decision to break it now. It is imperative to rescue the philosophy before it is converted into another elitist fad.
It is unfortunate how the original clarity of thought and vision has been turned upside down. For me personally, mainstream success (or the lack of it) matters only in so far as it helps advance the cause. That is how it was back then and that is how it remains. I really did mean it when I sang the following verse by Jalib:
Aye mere vatan k fankaro zulmat pay na apna fan vaaro….Yeh mehel saraon k baasi qaatil hain sabhi apnay yaaro.
At every step of the struggle I continued to try and find a bridge between Taimurs aspirations for popularity and the revolutionary fervor of the members of the Laal Brigade. I oscillated between my best friend who desired popularity and the youth who wanted nothing short of a genuine movement. I chose the latter. I believe that it is only a genuine revolutionary movement of the youth that can transform our country for the better. I believed, and continue to believe, that the message of Faiz and Jalib has the potential to transform our nation if it permeates the hearts and minds of the oppressed and exploited sections of the society. We do not need to bow down to the criterion of commercial viability. If this is idealism, I stand for it.