Instep Today

Celebrating milestones

By Maheen Sabeeh
Sun, 03, 24

Remembering significant moments from 2024 as the first quarter of the year concludes on a positive note.


Ali Sethi and Sharmeen Obaid-Chino

Ali Sethi and Sharmeen Obaid-Chino

Representation matters

The representation of South Asian artists has significantly increased at the Academy Awards, colloquially known as the Oscars. 2024 marked another remarkable year in this regard, with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a two-time Oscar winner, representing Pakistan at a pre-Oscars party. However, she wasn’t the sole representative. The accomplished Ali Sethi also graced the event for a second consecutive year, filling us with pride. While Sethi may not have an Academy Award to his name, his music and the thematic depth of each of his releases continue to evolve, showcasing his unparalleled talent.

Flying the flag

Earlier this month, on the occasion of Pakistan day, several artists from Pakistan’s performing arts and cultural industry were conferred with civilian awards. We wholeheartedly support the government’s recognition of these individuals.

Bilal Lashari (Sitara-I-Imtiaz), Shabnam ((Sitara-I-Imtiaz), Mai Dhai (President’s Award for Pride of Performance), Zubaida Begum (President’s Award for Pride of Performance), Adnan Siddiqui (President’s Award for Pride of Performance), Sheema Kermani (President’s Award for Pride of Performance), Baqir Abbas (President’s Award for Pride of Performance), Hamayoon Khan (President’s Award for Pride of Performance) and Sajal Aly (Tamgha-I-Imtiaz) were among the honorees, including several others.

Note: Sarmad Khoosat’s omission from the actual list is conspicuous, despite his nomination for the Sitara-I-Imtiaz Award, as confirmed by the multi-talented artist on his Instagram page. Khoosat, a tremendous talent, stands out as an artist deserving of this honor, especially ahead of others like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (RFAK), whose reprehensible behavior came to light in a controversial video showing RFAK allegedly assaulting an employee.

Beyond geographical boundaries

Arooj Aftab’s talent and character defy adequate description. She showcased exceptional production skills by producing a four-track mini album for Anoushka Shankar titled Chapter I: Forever, For Now. Just when we thought her accomplishments couldn’t surpass this, Aftab released another spectacular album in 2024, an LP titled Qasr for American composer and vocalist Sheherazaad, of Indian descent. Although nominated for two awards at the 2024 Grammy Awards, Aftab did not win. However, like many other artists worldwide, she has called for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Gaza. Furthermore, she is scheduled to perform at the upcoming Glastonbury Festival in the United Kingdom. Throughout all of these achievements, she remains a humble spirit, expressing universal emotions of love, loss, heartbreak, grief, and exploration of identity through her art.

An unexpected and wonderful surprise

When Pakistan’s longest running music group, Strings (ft. Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia), decided to disband, Bilal Maqsood revealed his intention to pursue a solo career in music and create material for children. Conversely, Faisal Kapadia welcomed the end of the musical chapter in his life, shifting his focus to other endeavors such as travel. Although Coke Studio 14 seemingly brought him out of musical retirement with ‘Phir Milenge’ (in collaboration with Young Stunners). Faisal has also established a record label called Twenty Nine Records and released a surprisingly beautiful solo album called Zindagi Jahan Le Jaye in 2024.

Cinematic courage

In an age where Pakistan’s cinema industry struggles to attract audiences to cinemas (as opposed to streaming platforms or online services), Ayesha Omar deserves credit for not only acting in Taxali Gate but also for having the courage to produce the film.

A landmark for fashion

To some, Mohsin Naveed Ranjha (MNR) is a fashion designer known for dressing stars like Ranveer Singh from India and Atif Aslam from Pakistan. However, his greatest accomplishment lies in his tireless work ethic. His creations exemplify a mind dedicated to craftsmanship and a deep respect for tradition. When combined, they transcend mere attire, becoming enduring and powerful pieces of art.

His capacity to establish a standalone design studio on London’s Regent Street not only demonstrates his entrepreneurial skills, but also serves as a beacon for the burgeoning fashion scene originating from Pakistan and South Asia.

The heart of a



Jawad Sharif avoids the spotlight, allowing his work to speak for itself. For years, he has told extraordinary stories with sincerity and compassion. Behind each documentary such as The Color of Smog, Natari, K-2 & The Invisible Footmen and Indus Blues, Sharif illuminates the lives of ordinary people, the richness of culture, and the forgotten traditions amidst urban chaos. As a National Geographic Explorer and the sole representative from Pakistan at the National Geographic Storytellers Summit this year, Sharif’s work stands as a testament to honesty, compelling narratives, and unique perspectives. Through both released and unreleased material as well as through personal conversations, it is evident that Sharif remains steadfast and undeterred in spirit.