Laughter has died in Pakistan
Islamabad: A Pakistani daily wished Saturday that the old times would return "so that the sound of unrestrained laughter can be heard more often across our towns and cities".
An editorial in the News International paid tribute to comedian Safirullah Siddiqui, also known as Lehri, who died Thursday after a prolonged illness.
"The golden age of Pakistan`s film industry is long past. Lehri`s death reminded many that such an age was once a reality. His ability to make people laugh lightened up lives through his 30-year career as a film comedian, lasting from the 1950s to the 1980s," it said.
"In many cases, this ability, for a short time at least, removed furrows from brows and worries from people`s lives. This in itself was a huge achievement; Lehri will be remembered by all who saw him on screen," the daily added.
The editorial moaned the way he spent his last days.
"Like other artistes, Lehri received little official support or assistance. A stipend of Rs.2,500 a month, initiated for him by Benazir Bhutto, continued till his final days, but it never increased.
"He had also been largely forgotten, with younger people barely familiar with his name," it said.
The daily said the manner in which Pakistani film stars, singers, musicians and others were treated was a key reason for the collapse of the performing arts.
"Lehri represented a time when their careers prospered, it was also a happier time for the country as a whole.
"We need to think of ways to bring back that time, so that the sound of unrestrained laughter can be heard more often across our towns and cities. We badly need people like Lehri to offer this to us," it said.