PESHAWAR: Local artists, rights activists and civil society members gathered in a studio in Saddar Bazaar to urge authorities to delay deportation of Afghan artists and musicians as current rulers of Kabul had imposed ban on music and art in the neighbouring country.

Large number of human rights activists, folk artists and civil society members attended the gathering. Noted Afghan performers and artists based in and around Peshawar also turned up and shared their issues in the wake of the deadline set for their deportation by Islamabad.

Dr Rashid Ahmad Khan, president of Hunari Tolana Welfare Society, on the occasion said that leading members of his organisation were in contact with rights bodies and cultural wings of all the political parties to convince them that the issue of Afghan artists was altogether different from the rest of Afghan refugees staying in the country without legal documents.

“After the fall of Dr Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul in August 2021, Taliban imposed complete ban on music and all kinds of cultural activities in Afghanistan.

Rights activists say their lives will be at risk in Afghanistan

It forced many Afghan artists and singers to flee to Quetta and Peshawar to save their lives, leaving behind their old and sick family members. Our organisation registered most of them to avoid being harassed by local authorities,” he said.

Shad Zardan Jan Ustad, a senior Afghan artist, said that no Afghan even remotely related to music and art was found involved in any criminal activity.

He said that even then authorities were bent upon deporting them.

“Being peaceful community, we advocate peace and goodwill and never get involved in illegal activities. At least, we the Afghan artists should be excused from being deported to the country where sure beheading and persecution are in wait for us let alone residing with peace. We make no demand from Islamabad and only want the relevant authorities to find out a plausible solution,” he said.

Sifwat Khan Nangarahari, a young Afghan harmonium player, said that return to Afghanistan in the current situation would put their lives at death edge.

Hayat Roghani, head of Mafkoora Research and Development Centre, said that he and his colleagues had planned several initiatives to help Afghan artists and musicians, who had been in great distress since their arrival in Peshawar following control of government by hardliners in Kabul on August 15, 2021.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

What next for PTI?
Updated 23 Feb, 2024

What next for PTI?

THE incoming government has been carved up. With the major offices apportioned between the PML-N and PPP, the...
Tackling debt
23 Feb, 2024

Tackling debt

MANY would tend to describe a new report warning that the country is headed for “inevitable default”, which will...
Imprisoned abroad
23 Feb, 2024

Imprisoned abroad

THE issue of Pakistani prisoners imprisoned in foreign jails crops up regularly, particularly during parliamentary...
On a leash
Updated 22 Feb, 2024

On a leash

Shehbaz will not find it easy to introduce the much-needed major changes to the economy without running into resistance.
Shameful veto
22 Feb, 2024

Shameful veto

THE US has scored a hat-trick by vetoing, for the third time, a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for an...
Truth under threat
22 Feb, 2024

Truth under threat

AS WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange mounts a last-ditch effort against being extradited from the UK to the US, one...