Arooj Aftab has everyone in a pickle with a tweet where she asked her followers to stop associating her with Pakistani music, or calling her an ‘Urdu singer’.

The Grammy award winning singer had tweeted:

“Pakistani singer arooj aftab…… Urdu singer arooj aftab….. arooj Aftab’s amazing Urdu singing… like. It’s fine I guess? But can a person of color musician ever just get to be without this tag to whatever someone else is presuming is our root or heritage.”


Twitter users were confused by this because as some pointed out, she had built up fame in Western countries using Urdu ghazals like ‘Mohabbat’.

One user had written:

“Nobody calls you an urdu singer in pakistan. they call you that in majority english speaking countries, where your claim to fame was an urdu ghazal. your lyrics didn’t come to that audience naturally. they recognize you geographically. we all do that with foreign language music.”

But Aftab had to clarify in her next tweets that she was not being anti-Pakistani, nor was she criticising her own roots, but her tweets were addressing the Western media who push her into a georgraphical context, which makes it easier for her to be gate-kept.

“Oh f***k this tweet really awakened the “she’s anti Pakistani!!!” sentiment. Great. I’m not talking about erasing or disowning roots and heritage. while touring eu/uk at the moment, I feel like pushing back on being ONLY allowed to exist in a geographic and linguistic context. This makes it easy for them to other-ize, exclude us and overlook what is achieved, and to gate keep/ glass wall what is further achievable.”