Jawad Ahmad was born into an educated middle class family. Both his parents were professors of political science. His father, Prof. Tauqeer Ahmad taught in Government College and mother, Mrs. Anees Tauqeer, in Lahore College For Women. Very early on in his life he became very conscious about the inequality and wondered why some people have everything and some have trouble just barely making it. He saw poverty, deprivation and exploitation all around him and helplessness and anguish on people’s faces. It was then that he started thinking about the system and had a desire to change it.
He felt lucky that his parents could afford to educate him. He finished his O level from Cathedral School.
He joined UET (University of Engineering and Technology) in Lahore after doing FSc. from Government College Lahore. That is when he started thinking about practical means to end inequality. Like all other children, he was inspired by famous showbiz and sports celebrities on TV. So, he thought that first step will be to become famous because that will make it easy for him to promote his message. He started with playing cricket and was selected for Patrons Trophy and joined Wills Cup. But he found it incompatible to excel in cricket as well as keep up with his studies also. He noticed that many people were becoming famous due to singing at that time, even though they had no formal training in singing or music. So he decided to try that. He became president of music society and besides organising shows, also started singing in them.
While still in UET, he was offered to become lead singer for Jupiters, a famous pop music band in those days. He accepted the offer. After he graduated from UET with a degree in mechanical engineering, he asked his father for two years to try and succeed in this field. His first album, Bol tujhe kia chaheiye” came out in 2000 and his first song was “Allah mere dil ke ander” which portrayed the inequality between rich and poor. Later on with the success of my commercial songs, he realised that it will be much easier to become famous with commercial music. That is when he started focusing on pop music. He became immensely successful. His name became well known not just in Pakistan but also internationally. He is very thankful for the love and affection of his fans which to this day continues.
Social and Philanthropist work:
As he was always trying to think of the ways to eliminate poverty and inequality, he decided to set up Taleem For All Trust in 2003. Goal was to educate disadvantaged children all over Pakistan. Trust started by setting up 10 schools in Chunian on one room one teacher basis. The number of schools increased to 14. Then due to opening of formal schools in the area, attendance the Trust’s schools so after consultation with area people and parents, the program was closed. By then almost 1000 children had been educated. Another important reason to close the program was that Jawad Ahmad realised that in order to continue this project, he will have to raise funds and since it is mostly rich people who have funds, he will have to ask them. That idea was very repulsive to him. Ideologically also he found it demeaning to beg money from the rich to spend on the poor. It creates dependancy and cause loos of self respect. He knew that the poverty and deprivation will only end when people stand up for their rights.
International Youth and Workers Movement:
Because of this realisation and his passion to make this world a better place for all human beings and promote the concept of equality of right over resources and equality of access to opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity and nationality, he founded “International Youth and Workers Movement” in 2011 with the help of some friends. Main goal for this was to raise the socio-political awareness among youth and working class of Pakistan and inform, educate, empower and organise them with the help of some friends. This provided him with a platform to promote these ideas. He has addressed working class and youth through trade unions, in educational campuses, on youth festivals and other public events. He has traveled to many areas in Pakistan for this purpose speaking tirelessly about the difference between rich and poor, about the oppression and exploitation of workers, their low wages, lack of social security, complete absence of work place safety and lack of education and healthcare to their families. He also on TV about this at every opportunity he got. Gradually many people started to join him in this struggle.
He led many campaigns under the banner of IYWM.
1. He has also led campaigns for Baldia Factory fire victims to get them reasonable compensation for the loss of their loved ones. He also visited the site of Gadani Shipyard fire and highlighted the plight of workers there through media.
2. Pakistan government has been trying to privatise many state institutions under pressure from IMF. This included PIA and WAPDA and many others. Jawad Ahmad spoke against this effort on many platforms and participated in the protests and rallies. Under his leadership, International Youth and Workers Movement also organised a conference against privatisation where representatives of almost 32 trade unions participated.
3. He has spoken about gender issues and importance of women’s participation in public life. Some of his songs, like “Hum Nowjawan” and “Aao Bacho, Uthao Basta” specifically address this issue.
4. He is leading the campaign “Restore Student Unions” in Pakistan. Right of association and right of assembly is a fundamental human right which is acknowledged in the constitution of Pakistan. Student unions were banned in 1984 in Pakistan which is a violation of that right. This is n ongoing campaign. He has spoken about this in various public gatherings, recorded his video messages on this and has done TV programs to advocate and promote this cause. He also is working with an attorney to bring this issue to the court.
5. Since he is a celebrity in Pakistan, he gets invited to many talk shows and other TV programs. He has used that platform to highlight the plight of the poor. He also made two special programs with renowned TV talk show host, Mubasher Lucman, where the members of working class were invited as guests. Through these programs, the audience came to known first hand how eighty per cent of Pakistan’s population lives.
Even it Up Campaign:
Jawad Ahmad is an ambassador for “Even It Up Campaign” of OXFAM in Pakistan. According to OXFAM, Inequality is growing around the world. Every year, the gap between rich and poor gets even wider. 1% now own more than the rest of the world combined. 8 billionaires own the same wealth as the poorest half of the population. Rather than trickling down, income and wealth are being sucked upwards at an alarming rate. The very design of our economies have taken us to this extreme and unjust point, with rules that benefit wealthy corporations and elites at the expense of everyone else.
The inequality crisis is also being fuelled by the use of tax havens that allow multinational companies and super rich individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. As much as $ 7.6 trillion of personal wealth is being hidden in off shore accounts, and it has devastating impact on poorer countries.
Such extreme inequality is standing in the way of ending global poverty and widening other inequalities like the gap between women and men. Our economy must stop excessively rewarding those at the top and start working for all people.
The “Even It Up” campaign involved creating awareness about the menace of neoliberalism, pitfalls of privatisation of education and impact of unjust taxation system on common person in Pakistan as well as gender inequality. In order to advocate for these issues Jawad Ahmad wrote, composed and sang two songs as well as created their videos: “Bhola kia Kare” and “Hum Nowjawan”
Jawad Ahmad is a role model for younger generation. People listen to him and accept his ideas. He also has a way of connecting with people and explaining his views in a very easy to understand language. In a country where most people believe that being rich or poor is because of God’s will and one has to accept God’s will because the final reward is in the life after, it is very difficult to change this mind set. He has spoken repeatedly about this and explained to masses that even though God may have created the universe and set up systems to run it, the economic, social, political and other systems are man made and it is only us who can change them. His way of explaining is inspiring on the one hand and empowering on the other. It makes people think and ponder about this world, its injustices and oppressive and exploitative systems.