March 9 marked the 16th death anniversary of iconic folk singer Pathanay Khan. As the trend has always been, little or no efforts were made to remember the Pride of Performance winner and honour his legacy.
Generally, Lahore Arts Council and Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture host tributes and similar events for celebrated Pakistani artists of yesteryears, but surprisingly, they chose to ignore Khan’s death anniversary. The Punjab government bankrolls both the institutions for the promotion of arts.
“Khan had a unique style. It was our luck that a singer of his calibre was born in Pakistan. He sang with devotion, never caring about financial benefits or popularity because music was his life. Failing to remember such Sufi legends is cruelty. How can we ignore people who earned great honour for our country?” said folk singer Arif Lohar. He said the white-maned devotee of Khawaja Ghulam Farid still lives in the hearts of those who look up to him each day.
Folk singer Nasir Beraj Mehdi also pointed out negligence on the part of local art councils and cultural preservation departments. “Our culture department is known for arranging events but this time they did not organise any event paying tribute to Khan. It is rather disappointing how they fail to acknowledge the contribution of late singers,” he said.
“Khan gave a new dimension to folk music by introducing his specific style of singing kafis and sufiyana kalaam,” recalled folk icon Shaukat Ali. “He dominated the folk industry for four decades. His music is enjoyed by people not only in Pakistan but around the world.” Ali said Khan was an asset to and there is no doubt about the fact that he should be remembered for his contributions. “We must share his work and his story with our future generations,” he added.
Born Ghulam Muhammad in 1926, Khan was a native of Basti Tambu Wali which is situated in the Thal desert. Khan started his career at a tender age and became known in his native village for singing in a specific style that only he could deliver. He gained popularity with his melodious kafis and ghazals, and rose to fame at national level for singing Farid and Shah Hussain’s poetry. Some of his most memorable works include Maida Ishq Vi Toun, Wajay Allah Wali Taar, Kya Haal Sunawan Dil Da, Pilu Pakiyan Nay, and Kadi Moa Mahran. It was Khan’s characteristic style of singing that impressed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who bestowed upon him the Pride of Performance award in 1979.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2016.