PESHAWAR: On the annual Music Freedom Day — observed on 3 March — the singers and musicians have demanded the government to ensure them freedom to perform and create their music fearlessly without their rights violation.
Organized by cultural journalist’s forum and Takhleeq Foundation, Pashto singers and music producers gathered at Peshawar press club on Saturday and discussed the issues of freedom of expression for musicians in the province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
“Music gives us a chance to connect with world,” said Arshad Hussain a senior artist. “It is music through which, we tell the world our stories and sorrows but unfortunately, our music has never been allowed to grow freely.”
Singers complained that it is not only the decades-long insecurity that has kept Pashto and other language music suppressed, but also it is the apathy of the federal and provincial governments towards their arts and music due to which local music has not got exposure to the outside world.
“Our music is stagnant now,” said Hussain. “Our musicians have no exposure to outside world due to which they have not learned new musical trends and variation and remains stick to centuries old trends.”
Hussain said that while formulating the cultural and film policy, the federal government has not taken any artists or Pashto filmmaker’s views despite the fact that they are the largest producers of music and film in the country.
“For the last few decades our singers’ voices are suppressed, they have not been able to perform freely and create music freely,” said Hussain. He added that musicians and singers have been able to attach to their music with extreme difficulty throughout their lives both in Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
In join resolutions passed through the gathered the artists and musicians demanded there should be art academy to promote local arts and attract new talent to the music and cultural industry. They shouldn’t be only depended on government stipend of Rs30,000 per month but should be given opportunities to perform and earn. They also asked government to handover the province only culture centre, Nishtar hall to the artist, where indigenous arts can be performed and promote. They also asked the government to include all the artists in the country is same category and should be paid equally.
“K-P government pays singers from other parts of the country in millions while local artists are still paid only few thousands for whole concert,” said Ihtisham Toru president of cultural journalist’s forum. He added that discrimination should be ended now if government wants to promote local singers and musicians.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2018.