Aftab Iqbal started the trend, one that continues till this day, of having a political comedy show with someone from Lahore’s vibrant comedy theatre scene providing the barbs. Hasb-e-Haal on Dunya still packs quite a punch. That program continues to run on the fuel called Sohail Ahmed. It didn’t receive any setback when Aftab Iqbal jumped ship and started Geo’sKhabarnaak.
Aided this time by a slew of theatre actors, and the show’s piece de resistance Mir Muhammad Ali, the program was a great hit. However, the decision to leave Geo did not seem to bode well for Iqbal. Though hisKhabardaar has some of the same theatre actors, it still seems a bit underwhelming without Mir.
Aftab Iqbal’s pontification is a dish best taken when downed with a gulp of good humour. In its absence, he can be a bit overbearing.
Take this clip, from a recent program.
One of the show’s audience members, a PML-N activist, had a couple of things to say in praise of his party. There’s a lot that the party has done in the health sector, he said, I know this, because I live near the Mayo Hospital, Lahore, in the prime minister’s own constituency.
Iqbal stopped him before he could go any further. You are not a part of theawaam, he told the man. If you are amongst the League’s voters, then you are a part of the “political elite.” A ridiculous definition of the elite.
The gaudily-dressed fellow (only real men can wear pink) spoke with a Lahori-Punjabi drawl in his Urdu. Aftab Iqbal tried to convince the man, much to his spirited denials, that no, actually he does not live in the area that he said he did.
If one were to be charitable to Iqbal, one could say that it is the premier’s constituents that he said were the elite, harping on the same (valid) tune that the League spends disproportionately on Lahore compared to the rest of the province.
The problem with that is what followed in the program. The recurring gripe was that no new big hospital has been built in Lahore in the past 20 years. Well, if they’d built another big hospital in Lahore — like the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, for instance — it would have yet again led to Takht-e-Lahore allegations.