Afghan artists want govt to recognise their contribution

Published February 17, 2020
Afghan folk singers perform at an event in Peshawar. — Dawn
Afghan folk singers perform at an event in Peshawar. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: The Afghan artists, folk singers and musicians, born in Pakistan, have asked the culture department to officially recognise their contributions and help them so that they can contribute to local music and art.

With beginning of war in Afghanistan four decades ago, along with mass migration, a large number of artists, folk singers and musicians also crossed the Durand Line and settled in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Later on, they also spread to the cities and plains of Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh.

Afghan artists complained that their children were not allowed in schools despite showing Afghan citizenship cards.

The Afghan artists run more than 20 music groups in and around Peshawar.

They did not return to Afghanistan as they found no audience and security there and sought incentives to contribute to local Pashto music over completion of 40 years, said Jan Wali Ustad, a singer.

Performers say they want to contribute further to local art and music

Noted singers Qamar Gula, Shah Wali Ustad, Mangal, Naghma, Ismail Feroz, Nawab Ustad and several others migrated to Pakistan and settled in Peshawar in early 80s.

One could remember for sure that Peshawar deputy commissioner had allotted a residence to Qamar Gula as gesture of good well and doors of the state-run radio and TV were opened on them for performance.

Sadiq Khan Shinwari, 30, told this scribe that his father Hayatullah was a harmonium player and folk artist.

He fled Afghan war in 1981 and settled at Board Bazaar in Peshawar and opened up a barbershop as he had no local audience but later he started teaching music.

He said that he also learnt the basics traditional music from his father.

“My four brothers, who were not affiliated with music, went back to Afghanistan but my colleagues and I stayed back and run a music office in Peshawar Saddar. We have been given Afghan citizenship cards and we can freely move to all parts of KP without any problem,” he said.

Mr Shinwari said that Afghan artists were performing on the state-run radio and TV. “We want Pakistani authorities to give us some incentives to further contribute to local music and art,” he added.

Khial Mohammad, 33, another Afghan singer, said that his parents had named him after great ghazal maestro Khial Mohammad because they had good relations with him.

He said that most Afghan singers and artists learnt from Nawab Ustad, who belonged basically to Punjab but lived in Peshawar. “We have fans here and don’t want to return to Kabul because we speak the local dialect and sing numbers of KP poets. However, culture directorate should recognise our contributions too,” said the artist.

Rashid Khan, the president of Hunari Tolana, told this scribe that he had recently provided membership forms to some Afghan artists and a separate wing of his organization would work for Afghan folk singers and musicians.

“Our organisation has already been working on the membership project of KP artists. Till now, several Afghan artists carrying Afghan citizenship cards or passports have contacted us,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2020

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