Global recognition continues to shine on Pakistani celebrities, with Forbes being the latest to join the bandwagon when it honored three of the country’s big names from the world of glitz and glamor in its ‘100 digital stars’ feature. The list, that spotlighted Asia-Pacific’s most influential stars on social media featured Mahira Khan, Atif Aslam and Aiman Khan prominently beside names such as K-pop sensation BTS, Chinese actress and singer Yang Mi and Australia’s Hollywood imports Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth.
All the more relevant in a year where social media and digital streaming were the primary platforms whereby stars showcased their work and interacted with their fans, the list essentially boils down to a who’s who of the entertainment business in one of the world’s most active showbiz hotspots. Mahira Khan was noted for using social media to raise awareness about breast cancer, mental health issues and violence against women, as well as having a humongous following – over 11 million collectively on Facebook and Instagram – in the digital arena.
Pop sensation Atif Aslam’s initiatives towards spreading awareness about the Covid-19 to his base of 20 million Facebook followers also got a mention, along with his devotional piece Asma-ul-Hasna that recites the 99 names of Allah. And no discussion of Pakistani digital stars could be complete without Aiman Khan, who happens to be the most followed Pakistani celeb on Instagram. The star’s entrepreneurial venture ‘Aiman Minal Closet’ also got a mention, along with her award nominations for TV shows Ishq Tamasha and Baandi.
It goes without saying that Pakistani celebs have been at the forefront of highlighting social issues in the digital arena and have always made their views known be that politics, religion or showbiz, something which sets them apart from the more diplomatic norms usually exercised in the entertainment business the world over. No stranger to stirring up social media controversies, celebrities such as Mahira Khan and others like Hamza Ali Abbasi (not featured on the Forbes list) have often times been the flag-bearers of important social causes such as the importance of participation in the electoral process and justice for rape victims. Now, their voices are also being noticed in the international arena, and we hope this in turn will only shine more light on the country’s vibrant entertainment industry.