Afghan artists, families arrive in Peshawar

Published September 10, 2021
In this file photo, an Afghan artist paints the design of the eyes of a woman on a barrier wall at the presidential palace in Kabul. ─ AFP/File
In this file photo, an Afghan artist paints the design of the eyes of a woman on a barrier wall at the presidential palace in Kabul. ─ AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Over 50 Afghan artists and musicians have arrived here along with their family members following Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, saying nobody harmed or threatened them on their way to Pakistan.

Most Afghan artists and musicians made their way to Peshawar through Chaman, Speen Boldak and other border crossings during past few weeks.

A senior Afghan folk artist requesting anonymity told Dawn that artists working with former Afghan government-run radios and TV channels had fled the country soon after the Taliban takeover through airplanes, but those poor and needy were left behind and many like him preferred Peshawar and Quetta as the safest places.

Another folk singer said a host of young Afghan artists and musicians were born and bred in Pakistani cities, including Peshawar, and even had learnt basics of music from local ustads (teachers). He said he and several groups of artists had returned to Afghanistan just a few years ago in the hope that the US-backed Afghan government would help them financially, but unfortunately they remained deprived.

“We hired rooms in Peshawar Kabari Bazaar and also got small residences on rent. Most artists were living in Kabul, Jalalabad and some other cities and nobody threatened us, but owing to bleak future prospects for music the Afghan artists decided on their own to return to Peshawar both for safety and some music projects,” a female Afghan artist told this scribe.

Rashid Khan, KP Hunari Tolana welfare society president, confirmed the arrival of a number of Afghan artists in Peshawar and had sought help of the KP culture department to resettle and provide security to the Afghan music groups.

“Over 50 Afghan artists and musicians along with their families have arrived in Peshawar during the past weeks through different border crossings and our organisation has registered only a dozen of them because the rest had no documents. Most of them are quite known to us, but as per our rules we cannot offer them membership unless cleared by the relevant authorities,” Mr Khan said.

An Afghan Rabab player, who also arrived recently, dispelled the impression that Taliban expelled the artists, saying the decision to leave Kabul was taken during the chaotic situation in the capital and elsewhere.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2021

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