Prime Minister Imran Khan says airing of quality Turkish content on state-media PTV is an attempt to provide role models and alternative entertainment to people. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday recommended that Pakistanis interested in Sufism tune into Turkish drama Yunus Emre, an Urdu dubbing of which is currently airing on PTV.

Defending his decision to air Turkish drama series on state-run television, Pakistan’s prime minister has said the blockbuster productions are being broadcast to educate and provide good role models to the people, particularly the youth. The cricketer-turned-politician has spoken to more than 12 million of his followers on the micro blogging site.

In an interview with local broadcaster Hum News aired on Saturday 5th December 2020, Prime Minister; Imran Khan said the airing of quality content like Turkish dramas was an attempt to provide alternative entertainment to the people. Observing that the misuse of technology, like mobile phones, has devastated society, he further said that, “You cannot ban things, but you can provide alternative entertainment to the public.”

This isn’t the first time the prime minister has recommended a TV show to Pakistani viewers. Earlier this year, he urged people to tune into PTV’s broadcast of Ertuğrul Ghazi, and told media that he wanted Pakistani youth to watch TV shows that were separate from those produced by Hollywood and Bollywood and reflected Islamic history and values.

PM Khan said Pakistan will try to produce quality productions such as Yunus Emre: the Journey of Love and Dirilis: Ertugrul (Resurrection), which have enjoyed record viewership in the country and abroad and became a record hit and talk of the town especially in Pakistan.  Earlier this week, Khan had publicly recommended through his official twitter handle that people should also watch the Yunus Emre: Askin Yolculugu to explore their interest in Sufism.

The blockbuster series is being broadcast under the title Raah-e-Ishq, meaning the path to love, with Urdu dubbing on the state-run Pakistan Television, which has already attracted a large viewership. “I strongly recommend the serial Yunus Emre being shown on PTV for all those who are interested in Sufiism (Marayfat),” Khan said. It follows the record-breaking historical drama Diliris: Ertugrul, which has taken Pakistanis by storm.

Already becoming a household name in the South Asian country, Ertugrul has set yet another record as its Urdu YouTube channel last week surpassed 10 million subscribers. In 2013, Pakistani TV channels screened 11 Turkish-made TV series and two movies, with 34,000 tourists visiting Turkey that year. The number jumped to 113,000 in 2018 and is estimated to exceed 120,000 by the end of this year.

He describes the show as “a journey of transformation, and yet another hit created by Mehmet Bozdag, who also wrote Diriliş: Ertuğrul. Imran Khan while sharing his thoughts to the local media anchor said, In a one-and-a-half-minute clip, the Prime Minister commented that “Yunus Emre was well-versed in mystical philosophy, esp that of the 13th century poet and mystic Jalaluddin Rumi. Serial is a great example of a meticulous attention to detail work.”

Subtitled Rah-e-Ishq for its PTV broadcast, Yunus Emre portrays a dramatic account of the life of the eponymous Turkish folk poet and Sufi mystic, who is said to have greatly influenced Turkish culture. The UNESCO General Conference unanimously passed a resolution declaring 1991, the 750th anniversary of the 13th century poet’s birth, International Yunus Emre Year.

Senator Faisal Javed took a step further and shared the trailer of the serial in a series of tweets and wrote ‘coming soon on PTV’. The serial was broadcasted in 2015 on Turkish state television, TRT. The second season of the serial was broadcasted in 2016. The serial has been created by Ertugrul-director, Mehmet Bozdag.

Yunus Emre, starring Gokhan Atalay, details the poet’s travels to Nallihan, where he establishes himself as a Seljuk official. After joining Taptuk Emre’s dervish monastery, he commences a journey that culminates with him becoming a dervish.

Imran Khan expressing his ideology through his thoughts said that, “We have always had content from Hollywood and Bollywood, which was then being showcased here. A third culture was being promoted. That is why I always want and urge our youth to know the difference between our values and that of the West,” he further said that, “We have a culture with romance and history as well. However, it is also filled with Islamic values. Sadly, the content from Bollywood is full of vulgarity, which wasn’t the case three or four decades ago,” he said, and claimed the promotion of Islamic culture would help reduce rampant “sex crimes.”

The broadcast of the Turkish serials on the theme of spirituality and religion follows PM Imran Khan’s vision to familiarize the local youth with the Islamic heritage, history, and traditions and spirit. Several times, PM Khan has expressed his wish for social reforms and protection of social, cultural, and religious norms. In his previous interviews, Khan has regretted the moral degradation of society. He has strongly opposed the culture of sexism, vulgarity, objectifying of women, and indecency projected in Bollywood movies.

Imran Khan further added that, “Drug culture and sex crimes are at the top in terms of viewership. I want a different culture inspired by the Hollywood and Indian cinema to be broadcast in Pakistan so that our young people come to know that there is a way of life outside of the million dollar questionable shows that have been broadcast.”

Back in October, Khan had recommended people to read the Turkish best-selling novel, 40 Rules of Love, written by renowned author Elif Shafak. His suggestion followed his attempt to bring the youth closer to the Islamic faith. The premier voiced his views regarding the novel in an Instagram post last week. He wrote, “This October I suggest our youth to read The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.” He further added to his comments that, “An inspirational book about divine love, Sufism, Rumi, and his Murshid Shams Tabriz. I read it a few years back and was deeply inspired.”

By Saleem Wattoo

The author is Editor In Chief of THE DAILY BEAT website. He is an average person with average life having blockbuster ideas.

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