VIDEO: Pakistan TikTok star faces backlash over forest fire video - GulfToday

VIDEO: Pakistan TikTok star faces backlash over forest fire video

Humaira Asghar

A videograb shows Humaira Asghar posing in front of a forest fire.

A Pakistani social media star with millions of followers is facing criticism after posing for a TikTok video by a forest fire, as a devastating heatwave causes widespread misery in the country.

Humaira Asghar, popularly known as Dolly on her social media platforms, posted a clip of herself walking playfully in a silver ball gown with a burning hillside on Margalla Hills as the backdrop, captioned, "Fire erupts wherever I am."

It comes after police arrested a man earlier this month in the northwestern city of Abbottabad for intentionally starting a forest fire as a background for a video.

Temperatures have peaked at 51˚C in parts of Pakistan in recent days, leaving the poor and vulnerable struggling to beat the heat in the impoverished country.

Asghar, who has more than 11 million followers on TikTok, said in a statement released by an assistant that she did not start the fire and there was "no harm in making videos." The clip has since been taken down.

Social media users are infuriated by this "disgusting" and "bizarre" trend that causes ecological damage and risks human lives in the name of haute culture and called out the social media influencers to do better and be aware of the responsibility they hold. There were several reminders not to think of their videos as mere consumption for certain likes and comments.

Here’s how the Internet went against Dolly and the viral culture and sided with nature.

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"She should have been holding a bucket of water to extinguish the fire instead of glamorising it," Rina Saeed Khan Satti, an environmental activist and chairperson of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board, said.

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The group said at least one other blaze this week in the hills surrounding the Pakistani capital was started for a social media video. "The message these videos is sending is too risky and it needs to be contained," Satti said.

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One comment under Asghar's video on TikTok said her actions were "sheer ignorance and madness."

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Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable country to extreme weather caused by climate change, according to the Global Climate Risk Index compiled by NGO Germanwatch.

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But experts say there is a lack of awareness among the population about environmental issues.

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In response to the development, TikTok released an official statement and said that "any content that promotes dangerous or illegal behaviour would be a violation of our community guidelines and is not allowed on our platform.

Forest fires are common from mid-April through to the end of July, caused by searing temperatures and lightning as well as slash-and-burn farming.

TikTok is widely used by young people in Pakistan and videos often garner hundreds of thousands of likes.

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