Unlike Pakistan, Afghanistan supports artists: Hamayoon Khan

Published: May 22, 2012
Musician Hamayoon Khan discusses the state of the Pashto music industry. PHOTO: KOHI MARRI

Musician Hamayoon Khan discusses the state of the Pashto music industry. PHOTO: KOHI MARRI

Musician Hamayoon Khan discusses the state of the Pashto music industry. PHOTO: KOHI MARRI Musician Hamayoon Khan discusses the state of the Pashto music industry. PHOTO: KOHI MARRI Musician Hamayoon Khan discusses the state of the Pashto music industry. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

He was invited as a state guest by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, given the best singer award in Pakistan and Afghanistan and recently won everyone’s hearts with his rendition of “Larsha Pekhawar Ta” in “Coke Studio”. Earlier, musician Hamayoon Khan worked with the corporate sector and even tried his skills as a programmer for channel ATV Khyber, but eventually gave in to his dream of writing, singing and producing music and turned towards the music industry. The Pashto musician talks to The Express Tribune and discusses the developments his recent venture has brought for him.

The ‘Coke Studio’ experience

Khan, who is extremely happy with the exposure he got through the refurbished version of an old, Pashto folk tune says, “This is the 2012 version of this folk melody.” He adds, “Whenever I listen to this version, I imagine Pakhtuns dressed up like cowboys and roaming around Peshawar.”

When asked what he thinks of the conservative lot who believe that “Coke Studio” tarnished the essence of the folk tune, the musician says, “I know people tend to take traditional folk melodies quite personally at times. What they need to understand is that it is a ‘Coke Studio’ version of the song and they should expect it to be different from the original.”

Discovering the roots of “Larsha Pekhawar Ta”

“Larsha Pekhawar Ta” is the one of the oldest folk tunes that according to Khan, dates back to hundreds of years in Pashto history. “No one knows about the exact time of its origin and the composer of this folk melody as this tune was passed from one generation to another without any background or history. And although the words did change with time, its message still revolves around love,” says Khan.

The musician says that the exact geographical location of its origin is also unknown and one can only assume things by what is available in the lyrics. “The song mentions Peshawar, which was known as Kanishka Pura in ancient times from which we can conclude that the original folk tune is not that ancient. As far as the region is concerned, along with Peshawar it also makes references to Nangarhar, which is a province in Afghanistan, with Jalalabad as its capital so it could have been written on either side of the Durand Line,” speculates Khan.

Like Khan, many artists have composed their own version of the song by modifying the lyrical content according to their preferences. “This is a song based on Tappas, which are a traditional lyric-writing format. We have myriad music books that contain thousands of Tappas from which any artist can pick and choose his or her favourite and use them in their renditions.

Competition from across the border

Like many other musicians hailing from that region, Khan too believes that the Afghan music scene is way ahead of what is happening in Pakistani Pashto music. He salutes Afghan artists and authorities for their effort and says, “Afghan musicians were better than us and they are better than us because of the kind of support they get from their authorities,” says Khan. “They have the Tajik, Uzbek and Russian influences in their music and their artists keep evolving with time.”

Khan, however, complains that the state of the music industry is not as good in Peshawar. “Their government, unlike ours, actually believes that artists are contributors to the society hence they provide them with all the sponsorship, funding and production facilities that are required. We, on the other hand, don’t get any help as such from the government,” states Khan.

While recalling his experience of performing in Afghanistan, the musician says, “It is altogether a new experience whenever I’m performing in Afghanistan. You can see how much their audience has matured with time.” However, on a positive note he adds that Pashto musicians in Pakistan have also matured and they will soon be ready to compete or may be even surpass Afghani artists.

What the future holds

The “Coke Studio” session gave Khan an opportunity to cater to large audience and the musician plans to release his album soon which will comprise of tracks in Pashto, Urdu, English, Punjabi and Persian.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (35)

  • Yasir Khan
    May 22, 2012 - 9:48PM



  • mohsin shinwari
    May 23, 2012 - 12:14AM

    superb ..nice vocalist..great composer ..and nice personality..


  • Ali
    May 23, 2012 - 12:27AM

    Hey guy your voice is amazing…honestly I never thought about listening to pushto song before. Being punjabi I love this track and playing it daily in my car…amazing effort


  • Afzal Khan
    May 23, 2012 - 12:34AM

    If you’ve ever heard modern Pashto music, you’d be hesitant to call it art. And that’s coming from a Pashtun.


  • Self Hating Lib
    May 23, 2012 - 12:35AM

    “Unlike Pakistan, Afghanistan supports artists: Hamayoon Khan”
    So whn are you moving there??


  • Knotty
    May 23, 2012 - 12:35AM

    Afghan govt doesnt, its NATO/US govt that supports artists!


  • mohsin shinwari
    May 23, 2012 - 12:38AM

    hamayun khan is a great vocalist..em personally a great fan of him,he presents pashto music,pashtuns culture ,pashtuns community… he presents that pashtuns are peace loving people and true pakistani..he also doing concerts abroad ..i love his voice..


  • May 23, 2012 - 3:21AM

    Complete sentence:Afghanistan supports music, in a very unconventional way. If you know what I mean


  • Amjad
    May 23, 2012 - 4:20AM

    @Self Hating Lib: I hardly think that the government officially supports anything in Afghanistan. The corruption and looting of government officials in Kabul far exceeds anything in Pakistan or many other Muslim states. Read the reports about how much aid money is looted by Afghani politicians and officials.


  • Zeta
    May 23, 2012 - 8:22AM

    When did Pakistan (as a state) did not support artists?
    Every year, Medals are awarded for Pride of Performance to those deserving it.

    That was bad statement. Sorry but you lost the respect


  • Khan
    May 23, 2012 - 9:10AM

    In Pak, Pushto Music (to some extent, Punjabi too) has the REAL global appeal. And I am saying this based on my extensive listening of music from Western to Turkish to African to Persian to Arabic. Hamayun’s other songs can give an idea of my claim.


  • Shahrukh kazmi
    May 23, 2012 - 9:52AM

    Afghan Government support music more than Pakistan? are you sure?


  • May 23, 2012 - 10:26AM

    There is one thing I totally hate an that was visible in the BTS of his song as well. When Humayoon enters in the studio, he raises his hand for salam and that is basically his palm in a vertical position near his chest facing the intended recipient. Totally like ‘dude.. stay away‘. I totally hate this form form salam gesture as it is getting very common in Peshawar. I am from that place too. Similarly, the gesture of hug when one meets someone, now its just resting of the hand on the shoulder of other person and not the hearty hug that is one supposed to do.

    Perhaps I am just being silly here but some gestures are meant to be filled with emotions. Don’t do it.


  • M. Aamir Khan
    May 23, 2012 - 11:33AM

    Pakistan gave him identity and fame and he is talking like this. Nobody knows Humayon Khan outside the Pushtoo audience before coke studio even he was state guest of Hamid Karzai, know everybody knows him all round Pakistan and outside Pakistan just because of Pakistan and not Afghanistan.


  • kamran khan
    May 23, 2012 - 1:03PM

    this is very good news for all afghans and we looking faword more good news about our stars.thanks to our leader mr karzai we love you all afghan .


  • Shyam
    May 23, 2012 - 3:38PM

    Who said Pakistan doesnt like music, infact in the chicago summit Pakistan faced a lot of music


  • mohsin shinwari
    May 23, 2012 - 3:58PM

    he raised the hand ..its a video somethings are scripted .somethings are planned ..yu can watch his other videos ,his songs ,his performance ,he is too much different then other singers..he has a great personality and very professional..he just sing ,seriously professionally and i like he don`t dance like others while performing…and yu know he is pashtun and pashtuns are famous for hospitality and loving eachother..so dont count lil mistakes…thnkx bro


  • Aaron Upright
    May 23, 2012 - 4:34PM

    Perhaps he forgets that Pakistani citizens are the ones who buy his music.


  • Zalmai
    May 23, 2012 - 5:28PM

    The Afghan government and private television stations like Tolo Television and Shamshad Television actively promote the arts and artists. Afghanistan always had a vibrant music scene and now more than ever music and all forms of art is thriving again.

    I don’t understand why people have to take everything so personally. If Hamayoon Khan thinks that the Afghan government promotes music more than Pakistan there must be some truth to it, and he has the right to express his opinions.


  • Zalmai
    May 23, 2012 - 5:53PM


    I totally agree with your post. I visited Afghanistan after 24 years and I saw this form of greeting being practiced all over the country. The Afghan diaspora hug in a full embrace and kiss on the cheeks but this gesture of warmth and affection is totally shunned by locals in Afghanistan.

    I don’t know how this greeting became a part of Afghan culture and who brought it there, but obviously it has taken root and also exported to Peshawar.


  • Jal
    May 23, 2012 - 7:47PM

    I strongly condemn the title of the post – why we are in hurry always for Pakistan bashing?


  • ather khan
    May 23, 2012 - 7:59PM

    good work bro. pahktuns have to work hard to make their place in the society. we are loosing valuable lives and time for foolish terrorism. we need progressive thought and activities. long live pakistan , long live afghanistan. pashtuns from both side of the line have to work together to make this two countries best in the world.


  • King Kong
    May 23, 2012 - 8:17PM

    Instead of supporting artists, the Afghan government should focus on repatriating millions of Afghani ‘refugees’ stuck in Pakistan since the Afghan war. Afghanistan and Afghanis have generally been very unthankful and ungrateful for what Pakistan and Pakistanis have done for them.


  • hamza khan
    May 23, 2012 - 8:38PM

    not sure this man has the ability to make a statement of this sort. not sure what he meant by it. if he’s so enamored with afghani music industry, he should try a coke studio session in kabul and see what the taliban think about that.


  • Zalmai
    May 23, 2012 - 8:59PM

    @Ather Khan

    Thank you for standing up for Pashtuns/Pakhtuns and the promotion of their culture and arts on both sides of the border.

    @Hamza Khan

    You are not Pashtun so I can understand your indignant behavior. For your information nobody cares about what the Taliban thinks anymore, they are irrelevant in Afghanistan today and why do you have a problem with Hamayoon Khan being enamored with Afghan music industry. He calls it as he sees it, respect that.


  • Ali
    May 23, 2012 - 9:53PM


    You will see who is irrelevant in Afghanistan in just a couple of yrs time. LoL


  • Ariana
    May 23, 2012 - 11:59PM


    The Taliban are irrelevant in Afghanistan because Afghans don’t buy into their Wahhabi/Salafi obscurantist ideology, maybe it appeals to Pakistanis because you are all in denial of your South Asian roots and obscuring facts and creating lies helps you cope.

    In a couple of years time, the Taliban will still be the lunatic fringe isolated to the margins of society. You can LOL all you want but that is the truth.


  • Knotty
    May 24, 2012 - 1:11AM

    Does a govt exist in Afghanistan?


  • Zalmai
    May 24, 2012 - 8:36PM


    Let me answer your question with a question of my own, does a government exist in Pakistan?
    I guess you don’t read the articles on this newspaper and are oblivious about the existence of government or lack thereof, in your own country. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.


  • Sana
    May 25, 2012 - 11:38PM

    In that case he should work in coke studio Afghanistan if that exist.


  • Anon
    May 25, 2012 - 11:45PM

    Dear Hamayoon! Pakistan music has inspiration from Central Asian, Persian, Turkish, Arabic and modern day Western popular music. You need to perform and collaborate more with other artists to know this. I mean outside Peshawar please. Pushtun music is not the only music we produce.


  • Bila Amir zai
    May 26, 2012 - 2:30PM

    Sana… In Kabul we have much better studios than Coke studio…. Perhaps you guys got this one in ages,

    And yeah about Humayun khan undoubtedly he is one of the finest singer..
    P.S: He is a Pathan
    Proud to be an afghan!!!


  • Anon
    May 26, 2012 - 9:05PM

    @Bila Amir zai:
    Coke studio is not a music studio, it’s a TV show. Which TV show of Afghanistan is as popular as this one? Pakistan music is one of the most popular and diverse music in South Asia after India. Afghan music doesn’t even come close.
    PS. Hamayoon is a Pakistani, his ethnicity is irrelevant.


  • Tahir
    May 26, 2012 - 9:56PM

    Title is misleading.
    @ ET
    He is complaining about the music industry of Peshawar i.e Pushtun music which may not be in good shape because of terrorism and all that, not Pakistani music. Kindly change your Pak bashing title.
    @ Humayoon comments
    I am not Pushtun but our Pushtun music is also no less. First time i have heard of this Humayoon guy, thanks to coke studio but everyone knows Pushtun singer Rahim Shah for his versatility and ability to sing in different languages. He should be invited to coke studio next time and not this Humayoon.


  • Ahmed
    Jun 11, 2012 - 11:05PM

    @ All those bashing Hamayoon Khan

    Brothers and sisters, Hamayoon has only called a spade a spade. His patriotism to Pakistan is NOT questionable. Below is the link to his song praising peaceful Pakhtuns and their commitment to PAKISTAN. He calls Pakistan his motherland. Which other Pakhtun singer can mention Pakistan in his songs (for fear of losing the Afghan markets). Please don’t jump to hasty conclusions without seeing the whole picture.



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