October 18th, 2020
By Hamid Riaz
Despite all odds, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was able to pull off a historic political show in Gujranwala on Friday, October 16. The rally was distinctive in several regards; Nawaz Sharif’s unrestrained salvo of allegations against sitting Generals, the unification of all opposition parties and politicians from minority provinces addressing a huge gathering of Punjabis, and much more. So, perhaps it’s understandable that few noticed that the person managing and enhancing the sound of ‘opposition’s fiery attacks on Imran Khan’ was none other than, in the premier’s own words, former “official sound engineer of Pakistan; (PTI)” DJ Butt. However, sources tell Voicepk.net that DJ Butt’s shop was sealed prior to the PDM Jalsa and he was pressurized through ” unknown callers” not to organize the Jalsa.
Reports of hair Over to the Opposition (PDM)
The PDM rally at Gujranwala emulated the ambiance of the stellar PTI Jalsas. From PMLN’s slogan Vote ko Izzat Do to PPP’s Dila Teer Bija the music shifted the atmosphere of the rally to suit the leader on the stage. “It was very hard managing this Jalsa because I had to mix up songs from 10 different political parties.”
But organizing political rallies for the opposition remains a risky task in Pakistan. From crackdowns to shop closures vendors have had to face arrests and shop closures in the past and during the current PDM jalsa as well. Sources told voicepk.net that DJ Butt himself received threats from ‘agency personnel’ and his shop was sealed by the district administration. When asked about this DJ Butt said “I can’t comment on this as I am just a businessman trying to run my business.”
Butt claims that he is not an ideological supporter of the opposition and he operates as an independent businessman providing premier sound management systems to whoever can afford the DJ Butt brand.
The rise of DJ Butt
Asif Butt alias DJ Butt hailed from a lower-middle-class family and used to work as a helper at a local coffee shop in Lahore, in the same market in which he later launched his own brand, the Butt Coffee Bar (BCB). Famous in the locality for his interesting music mixes Butt was ‘discovered’ by a local PTI leader close to Imran Khan in 2011 following which, in his own account, he met the current premier. By 2013 DJ Butt had become the go-to ‘sound guy’ for PTI’s ‘numerous’ Dharnas and Jalsas. Owing to his acute sense of local sensibilities DJ Butt soon became a market leader in providing ‘sound set-ups’ to different political parties, though his main business and political association remained with the PTI. Butt also claims that he had to face arrests, harassment, and even beatings for his passionate support for Imran Khan’s vision of change.
Falling out with PTI over non-payment of dues
DJ Butt’s mutually beneficial relationship with the PTI continued unhindered until his face-off with Imran Khan, alleging that the PTI owed him millions for several past events he had covered for them. He gave several interviews to media outlets asserting this claim and stands by his statement even today. “The PTI owed me a total of 140 million Rupees. And the payment was delayed. They paid up after some time but not the entire amount. Because, as a businessman, it became very difficult for me to run my enterprise. After sometime less than half the sum was cleared. On the 23rd of July 2015, I met with Prime Minister Imran Khan who personally told me that his party did not have the required funds because of which they will not be able to clear my dues. Believe me, I had to forgo 80 million Rupees because of Imran Khan’s request.”
Now, Butt claims that he is just a business providing his services to whoever pays. “I have done some 41 Jalsas for the PML-N, 13 for the ANP; I even covered Mulana’s Azadi March at Minar-e-Pakistan. And now I was lucky enough to cover PDM’s first-ever political rally. I am not a political worker, I am a businessman selling the DJ Butt brand.” asserts Butt.
The making of the DJ Butt Brand
“It’s not easy covering political gatherings. It takes a lot of nerve to function under that pressure, And I think this is the core reason behind my success. In such massive events, everyone is bound to make mistakes but the real thing is the ability to resolve them in real-time without letting them get out of control. This is what the DJ Butt brand is all about,” explains a jubilant Butt. “For instance during the PTI’s historic 23rd March rally at Minar-e-Pakistan, the weather was unforgiving. There was a thunderstorm and the rain was something out of this world. But instead of panicking, I took it up as a challenge and the result is in front of you all. That Jalsa is still the most memorable Jalsa of my life and this is something I recently asserted in front of the PDM central leadership as well,” Butt continues.
As political rallies continue, DJ Butt hopes he will be able to provide his services without fear or pressure as he insists he is just a businessman with no political leanings, just jingles to sell.