Pakistani Showbiz

A chance to make Zakoota smile

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There’s no gainsaying that Pakistan has a number of iconic artists to its credit, who have devoted years of their lives to entertain the people of their country. But due to limited or no funds, the country has often failed to give back to many of these stars, pushing them deep into the darkness of poverty and despair. However, things seem to be looking up for at least one artist —  Matloobur Rehman, known for his stint as Zakoota Jin in the children’s television series Ainak Wala Jin.

A few days ago, sports journalist and cricket statistician Mazher Arshad was left heartbroken when he read the news about Rehman, who is living a downtrodden life in the outskirts of Lahore. Unwilling to settle for how one of his favourite characters from childhood was living without even basic utilities, he decided to start a fund to extend support to Rehman. When contacted, Rehman shared that he has recently been approached by many well-wishers and is thankful for their support.

Arshad’s basic motivation for initiating the fund comes from his disillusionment towards the government, which he feels has shown lack of support for the artist community. “The government usually helps victims once there is nothing left. Let’s help people during their lives,” he wrote in a message on his Facebook page. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Arshad said, “For many people, Ainak Wala Jin was an important part of their childhood. At that time, we didn’t have many sources of entertainment. The show was the Pakistani equivalent of today’s fantasy movies, such as Harry Potter.”

To ensure the transparency of the fund for Rehman, Arshad has created a separate bank account, details of which are available on his Facebook page. He has also uploaded a list of initials, including the people who have donated for the cause. “A lot of people responded to the campaign and even Pakistanis residing abroad have contributed to this cause, for which I am grateful,” said Arshad. He has collected nearly Rs0.21 million for the star.

Having worked in the media industry for several years, Arshad lamented over how Pakistanis forget their heroes. He noted, “It’s not just the TV artists … look at some of our cricketers and hockey players. Many hockey players are financially unstable and some have even been forced to sell off their medals. We need to start recognising and acknowledging our heroes.”

Apart from Arshad, Ainak Wala Jin’s child star Ajlal Bukhari, who played the role of Imran, aims at setting up a foundation by the name of ‘Ainak Wala Jin Trust’ to extend financial support to those cast members of the show who are in need. He will also accompany Arshad to personally deliver the funds to Rehman at his residence.

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