As Pakistan enters the third wave of Covid-19, safety measures have been implemented to curb the rise in the cases. In April so far, Pakistan has reported more than 2500 deaths due to the coronavirus. At the same time, neighbouring country India continues to suffer from a sudden surge in positivity rate. In the middle of such chaos, we see a new video or photo of the finest from the entertainment industry holding a public gathering, every now and then.
Celebrities came together on Sunday night to mark actor Fahad Mirza’s fortieth birthday, followed by a qawwali night. Renowned names from the industry such as Sarwat Gilani, Mansha Pasha, Faryal Makhdoom, Frieha Altaf, Asim Jofa, Tapu Javeri among others were seen enjoying as maestros Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhamamd’s qawwal party performed onstage.
The videos soon started making rounds on social media, propelling fans to call out celebs for encouraging public gatherings in a time when it is fatal to do so. “It’s a shame how celebrities rather than using their influence to portray a positive message are repeatedly violating all rules and laws of the state! What a shame! No one is held accountable for their actions!” a user penned while another added, “While of course, the criminal tone-deaf elite of this country going live when many cities have reached their capacity to battle Covid.”
The user further added, “As doctors struggle day night, privileged elite of this county continues holding concerts. No shame. No responsibility. It’s Dr Fahad Mirza’s birthday who is thanking a packed space (no masks) for coming to his birthday bash in spite of the lockdown and virus. Not like Karachi’s infection rate is 10%. Not like people are piling up at hospitals. Remember their faces next time. shamelessness.”
The Express Tribune reached out Altaf who could be seen enjoying the video to ask what she had to say about the criticism. “First of all, it was a very small gathering and it was on an open rooftop it was also Fahad’s 40th birthday. All SOPs were followed, there were masks, temperature checks at the gate and I believe most of the guests already vaccinated or had antibodies,” Altaf told The Express Tribune. “The only time anyone took off the mask was to take a picture. I think when people see pictures and videos they end up assuming the worst.”
Talking about sending out a wrong message of encouraging public gatherings, Altaf shared, “I think, be it public figures, celebrities, politicians, the general public – it’s everyone’s responsibility to be responsible about the pandemic and if you see my posts on Twitter, you will constantly see me talking about asking people to get vaccinated to stay safe because we all realise that we have to follow these measures to keep our country safe and to keep working and provide for our families and get rid of the pandemic.”
She further added, “It’s been very stressful and very hard on everyone and we know what’s happening in India and so we need to be extra careful.”
Altaf felt people on social media call out others without doing the necessary fact-checking.”I feel that people on social media just pick up on things they don’t check on things they don’t know the whole story and they assume and make assumptions and start trolling and throwing hate around on celebrities,” she said, adding, “It’s always the case because the tweet or story is so short, so how are you going to know the whole story I urge everyone to please look at things carefully before passing judgment, stay safe, and follow the SOPs.”