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Every year, on Pakistan’s Independence Day (August 14), the state announces the recipients of the highest civilian honours that are awarded on the following Republic Day (March 23). The country’s artists, including film actors, are generally conferred with the Pride of Performance. No wonder it came as a shock to many that Mehwish Hayat and Reema Khan have been chosen for Tamgha i Imtiaz, the fourth highest civilian award that tops even the Pride of Performance. It set tongues wagging, and movie-watcher on social media questioned the validity of the awards. Both Hayat and Khan may have given blockbuster hits, none of their works merits the state honour, they said.

Among other awardees, Attaullah Esakhelvi and Babra Sharif are to receive Sitara i Imtiaz, the third highest civilian honour. Esakhelvi is a world renowned folk singer, whose rise from rags to riches is the stuff of legends, while Sharif ruled the film industry for more than two decades and is hailed for being the most versatile actress ever.