“What is an artist? For every thousand people there’s

nine hundred doing the work, ninety-nine doing well, nine

doing good, and one lucky bastard who’s the artist.”

–Tom Stoppard

 

Tom Stoppard, a critically acclaimed playwright and a well-known artist in his own right has been known to make this statement in his youth when he was still creating a name for himself. He found prominence with plays such as Arcadia, Professional Foul, The Real Thing. His two plays, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Professional Foul, show his passionate concern with human rights. In July 2017, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy.

But if one looks at how Pakistan treats its artists, the peep into the vista of the history is a disappointing gaze. There are countless examples where artists suffer financially and physically while the state looks at their agony as a silent spectator. From Manto to Saghar Siddiqui, from Mehdi Hassan to Reshamaan, the artists spent their last days in miserable conditions. These last days were probably the darkest period in their lives. What is ironic is that most of these artists are celebrated only posthumously. The state needs to change its attitude towards artists. They deserve recognition from the country when they are in need because if Pakistan takes pride in its rich culture, the makers of this culture are no one else but these gifted people we call artists.