Artists in Swat vow to stick to profession despite odds

Updated November 18, 2019

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Local singers Uzma Fayaz and Gulalai perform at a function in Swat. — Dawn
Local singers Uzma Fayaz and Gulalai perform at a function in Swat. — Dawn

MINGORA: Despite recent violence against female singers and dancers in Swat, the local artists have vowed to stick to their profession of entertaining people by singing and dancing.

Presently, over 25 families associated with singing and dancing live in Banr area of Swat. The artists said that singing and dancing was their profession and source of livelihood. They said that they felt elated by entertaining people and multiplying their happiness during their celebrations.

However, women singers and dancers are not always safe as they face violence from male members of their families.

In September, a man stabbed his sister Sana, a Pashto singer, to death. In another incident in May last, a singer-cum-dancer Meena was allegedly shot dead by her husband Shaukat Ali after she refused to give him money.

However, the singers and dancers living in Banr area of Swat said that they were determined to continue their forefathers’ profession despite all odds.

“Singing is not only my passion but also means of earning livelihood so I will keep singing to entertain people with my voice in their functions and celebrations,” Uzma Fayaz told this scribe. She said that she felt sad for the two fellow singers who were killed by their family members. She said that she wanted to become a famous Pashto singer.

Another singer Gulalai was also determined to carry on with her singing profession. “I am still learning music and will continue to learn. Nothing can stop me from singing because it is my passion,” she said while talking to this correspondent.

Fayaz Ahmad, who belongs to a performing art family in Banr area, said that performing art was their identity with which they served the community. “We have witnessed the harshest time during militancy in Swat when militants banned our profession. When the militants killed one of our relatives Shabana, who was a singer-cum-dancer, it spread fear in our community and many of our relatives give up the profession,” he told Dawn.

He added that during the mayhem they migrated to other parts of the country where they continued their profession. “We came back and resumed our activities again when the security forces eliminated militants from Swat,” he said.

Cultural activist in Swat said that Pakhtuns loved music, but they did not like singers, which was a tragedy. “We need to create awareness among people to respect the community associated with performing arts,” said Niaz Ahmad, a cultural activist in Swat.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2019