Contrary to what was largely publicized, Pakistan Idol concluded its auditions stage without auditions in Quetta, Swat and Hunza valley. The episode aired on December 29, 2013 was the last episode of auditions stage and it concluded with the following cities as official auditions list; Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Sukkur, Islamabad and Karachi. This is in stark contradiction to what was originally publicized by Geo TV and Pakistan Idol publicists and leads us to believe whether the original announcements of covering ‘restive Quetta’ was merely a publicity stunt?
What’s even more painstaking is that Balochistan province was completely ignored. They could have taken this great opportunity of projecting federation on the TV screens, all the while showing great talent and culture of vibrant people of Balochistan. Not only they completely ignored troubled federating unit, they also rubbed salt in the wound by misleadingly insisting there will be auditions in Quetta regardless of efforts to make it possible.
This is what was originally announced as reported by The News:
Asif Raza Mir, the managing director of Geo Entertainment, said the network was aware that there were security problems in Quetta and Peshawar, but the two cities were equally important.
“So we will provide our contestants, judges and crewmembers with security,” he added.
There’s even a protest page on Facebook by the name of “Quetta Protest Against Geo progrem Pakistan Idol” that has over 500 likes and is calling to boycott Geo TV and Pakistan Idol show.
Here’s what a post on the page said:
BOYCOTT & GEO TV NETWORK & PAKISTAN IDOL YEH PAGE QUETTA K TALENT K LYE JO K PURAY PAKISTAN KO DIKANA HA K HUM KISI SAY KAM NAHI HA OR HUM BALOCHISTAN WALAY B PAKISTAN KA HISA HAI… GEO GROUP NAY IK BAR PIR SAY SHOW KIA K HUM BALOCHISTAN WALAY PAKISTAN KA HISA NAHI HA ISI LYE PAKISTAN K HAR BARI CITY MAI AUDITIONS LAYE OR QUETTA MAIN NAHI… PLEASE QUETTAINS APNAY HAQ K LYE HUMAN KHUD KARAYE HONAY HOGA .. POST KAREIN APNI VDOS .. OR APNAY TALENT SAY SHOW KAREIN K HUM KISI SAY KAM NAHI … LIKE & SHARE
That’s about Quetta and Balochistan and the publicity stunts are far from over. Here’s Geo News prime time bulletin’s report implying Swat auditions:
Of course, saying we auditioned for Pakistan Idol in Swat is bound to generate buzz as it is hometown of Education activist Malala Yousafzai and had seen bloodshed amidst war on terror. And it worked! Even foreign press picked it up. The following is a quote from a piece in The Telegraph:
Auditions ran in some of the most troubled parts of the country, including Swat, a region overrun by the Taliban as recently as 2009 and where Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl activist, was shot last year.
Then there’s a news report suggesting auditions in Hunza valley:
With all the publicity leads, there was no official announcement from the organizers about the canceled venues except for a quote from one of the judges Ali Azmat in Dawn: “The contestants from Peshawar and Swat had to come to Islamabad to audition for the show.”
I agree that covering all cities is not a possibility for any of the Idols series — even American Idol or Indian Idol isn’t able to cover all the states in their respective countries — it’s like Pakistan Idol wasn’t even trying.