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HomeLife StyleAhsan Khan’s Pashtun character called out for stereotyping | The Express Tribune

Ahsan Khan’s Pashtun character called out for stereotyping | The Express Tribune

Ahsan Khan is once again trending on social media but this time, it’s not because he’s a “British Asian actor”. Khan’s latest drama, Meray Humnasheen, sees him essaying the role of Darakhzai, a Pashtun man known for his regressive and arrogant behaviour. Darakhzai pays no respect to anything that comes out of a woman’s mouth and carries a gun on his shoulder to protect his “honour”.

But this is not the first time a Pashtun man is depicted with the said characteristics in the name of entertainment. And while Ahsan Khan or Meray Humnasheen shouldn’t be singled out, one has to agree such brazen stereotyping needs to stop. Thus, social media users are voicing their disapproval of what they feel is blatant “cultural appropriation”. Many are calling out Khan and the drama industry for defaming Pashtuns by presenting them as instigators of violence, while propagating the stereotypical “illiterate” and “drug addict” potrayal of their community.

Posting a picture of Khan from the first episode of Meray Humnasheen, a disappointed fan wrote, “When they got nothing else to represent our Pashtun community on television, they just simply change our urdu accent to gulabi Urdu, hand guns to the characters, start portraying an extremist concept of ‘ghairat’ (honour), and continue with our urge towards chars, afheem, powder and all the drugs in the world.”

They further commented on the impact of such irresponsible profiling. “While they drag our image completely, it also indirectly points towards terror, and we watch them in the name of entertainment because we are now, only left with this. If they truly want to represent us, they should make movies about our heroes like Ahmed Shah, Kalo Khan, Bacha Khan, Rehman Baba and others.”

Influencer, content creator and doctor, Tahleel Gulalai Khan, who identifies as a Pashtun, also shared the tweet on her Instagram stories to voice her opinion on the matter. She wrote, “As a Pakhtun, I feel this so very deeply. Television plays a huge role in setting a mindset and unfortunately, all I see is Pashtuns being stereotyped as barbaric, illiterate, aggressive, drug addicts and what not. [There are] a thousand different narratives to represent Pashtuns but no. We will just stick to showing them as jahil (illiterate) and laraaka (violent).”

It is 2022, and in the age of global reach and growing Islamophobia, the sad reality is that our entertainment industry is still oblivious to its impact and responsibility towards shaping and encouraging regressive stereotypes against misrepresented minorities. What’s more disappointing is that critically acclaimed actors agree to take on roles that are ill-researched and do not appropriately represent cultures and communities, making a mockery of them without, perhaps, even intending to.

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