In a new spin on improving a war torn country and promoting an underappreciated military, the Pakistani government is honing its marketing prowess in a hopeful move to change the way it is perceived amidst the population.
Faseel-e-Jaan Se Aagay, which translates from Urdu as 'Beyond the Call of Duty,' premiered last year as a new television show based on the lives of the soldiers in the Pakistan Army. In response to the surprising success of the series, it is back for its second season, which premiered earlier last month.
Kashif Nisar, the show's director, chose not to hire actors but instead to feature the soldiers themselves in the character roles.
The show tries to communicate to people the actual facts ... by casting original soldiers, said a Pakistani resident who is familiar with the show. And with recognizable landscape and stories, the show relies to a large extent on relatability for its success.
It's effective, said this same source, especially in rural areas. But the positive response is not sweeping across the entire country. Other Pakistanis agreed that the success of the show is limited to the rural areas, emphasizing that the effects are felt more in these areas than they are in the cities.
PTV ... is an outdated channel, said a different source, explaining this discrepancy. The local channel is one of the few available in the country areas, while city residents have access to many other channels, including the more popular American ones.
This doesn't bother the first source, who is confident that the soldiers get enough respect in the Pakistan Army by the grace of Almighty Allah, citing the Muslim deity as a factor in the army's increasing popularity among citizens.
But, he says, Faseel-e-Jaan Se Aagay should not be disregarded because of its limited audience. Shows like these, he explained, have a positive impact on people here in Pakistan. They [Pakistanis] love watching their soldiers and their life.
Pakistan is not unique in its use of television to influence the public, and it is interesting to note the trend that has found some popularity in various countries. In the late 1980s, an Indian television series was based on the lives of soldiers who won the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military honor. Also produced in close cooperation with the country's army, it featured a number of high profile actors. A Hindi movie with the same name came out in 1995, and follows a complex love story that ends when the love for the nation becomes supreme for all of [the characters].
But Faseel-e-Jaan Se Aagay hopes to have a more lasting effect on the nation, not only promoting the soldiers as patriots but as harbingers of a better time. Peace is reaching fast, sing Shafqat Amanat Ali and Rahat Fateh Ali in the theme song, and that's exactly what these soldiers seek to show through this new step in their careers.