PESHAWAR: Just two-day ahead of the World Music Day, being observed on June 21 across the globe, Pashto music lost a melodious voice. On June 18, renowned Pashto singer Ghazala Javed and her father Muhammad Javed were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Peshawar.
Music and social interaction is important and can promote happiness and peace in a society as any society cannot survive without music and arts. Humankind and art cannot function without one another. Music is the most popular forms of human expression. It is an expression of the artist.
Singers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been under attack for the last few years. Music is the ultimate victim whether singers are killed due to personal disputes or by extremists.
The killing of Ghazala Javed sent shocking waves across the region. It is fresh blow to the Pashto music which is already facing the wrath of Taliban. Pashto music has been caused immense loss by Taliban militants who strongly oppose music.
Ghazal Javed also became victim to the family and social pressures which others singers of the region have faced in the past. Unfortunately whenever a melodious voice surfaces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it is silenced either by extremists or by the social taboos.
Three years back, Aiman Udas, a famous Pashto singer was killed allegedly by her brothers who were against her singing.
Father of Nazia Iqbal another famous Pashto singer was also killed in an attack and it is alleged that her husband was behind the attack.
Yasmeen Gul, another Pashto singer from Balochistan was found dead in mysterious circumstances at her home in Quetta.
Parents of renowned Pashto singer Shakeela Naaz were killed in Swabi district. She moved to a foreign country after the killing of her parents. A dancer, Naheed, was killed by robbers while returning from a concert a couple of years ago in Peshawar.
In short, singers in the region have been faced with family and social pressures and the ultimate victim is the Pashto music.
With the rise of Taliban in tribal belt of Pakistan, every aspect of Pashtun culture has been affected. Music was one of the professions which have been caused colossal loss. Hundreds of music shops have been blown up. Dozens have been shut down forcibly.
It will take a long time for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s musical culture to recover from the Taliban’s cruel crackdown on music.
Then Taliban extremists banned music and have threatened several singers. Haroon Bacha, a famous singer left the country for United States after life threats from Taliban.
Though the murder of Ghazala Javed was the result of personal dispute with her ex-husband, however it shows the deep opposition for singers entrenched in Pashtun society. Pashtun loves music but has contempt for the musicians.
A recent example in this regard could be the alleged killing of four girls by a tribal Jirga in remote town of Kohistan. A Jirga in Kohistan allegedly handed down death penalty to four women and two men for dancing at a wedding party.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan took notice of the issue and later a judicial commission submitted a report to the court stating that the girls were not killed. The court disposed of the case.
The arrival of Awami National Party (ANP) a secular and liberal party came in power corridors of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has proved to be a ray of hope for Pashto music and art. The culture minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mian Iftikhar in an interview said “We want to defeat terrorism through music and art.”
The provincial government in Khyber Pakthunkhwa opened the 600-seat Nishtar Hall in Peshawar for cultural activities, and music fans defy the Taliban to attend music concerts there.
The government, artists and singer’s community should unite on one platform and work for the promotion of cultural activities in the war-torn province. There is need for financial support to artists and singers and a favorable environment for displaying the regional art.
Besides, artists’ and singer’s problems needs to be solved on priority basis, and an art academy should be constructed to benefit the artist community.
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