Local artistes and singers have demanded of the provincial government to speed up work on cultural policy and take steps to ensure their safety.
They also demanded a comprehensive cultural policy. The demand came during an event held at Peshawar Press Club, here on Friday to mark ‘Music Freedom Day’. Around 50 events were held across KP and FATA including Swat, Buner, Mardan, Nowshehra, DI Khan, Lakki Marwat, and Bannu to mark the day. About 300 local artistes, performers and musicians attended the event. The Culture Journalists Forum and Peshawar Press Club Cultural Committee jointly conducted the function with support of Directorate of Culture. The artistes and musicians displayed the spirit to celebrate music despite hard time.
The theme for this year was ‘Music for Peace’. Musicians of FATA also celebrated ‘Music Freedom Day’ at several places. Tribal dance was also performed. According to reports, FATA artistes, and singers put up demands for providing security and other facilities. “Our condition is not so good. We need security, our life is even harder,” Ahmad Wali a tribal folk singer told this scribe on Phone. He said despite all odds, they would continue to keep alive their music tradition.
The participants passed resolutions regarding welfare and providing health and education facilities to local artistes. They demanded free medical treatment for senior ailing artistes including Hidayatullah, Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, Sidra Ali and Akbar Hussain. They passed a special resolution unanimously condemning mishandling of a group of musicians on their way to home by Mardan police on Thursday night.
Noted Pashto folk singer Wagma Bibi was chief guest while senior music director, Master Ali Haider chaired the function. Addressing the event, she said female artistes and singers had been facing numerous problems. She complained that women artistes were not being encouraged and not even allowed to come out of their homes despite being talented and having a natural filial for art. “The fact is that there no social acceptance for female performers in our society. They are stigmatized for taking part in such activities. ‘If we claim that we are an art loving society we will have to give respect to them,” she added.
Senior actor, Ishrat Abbas maintained that efforts should be made to revive traditional music. He said our artistes were in a miserable condition but our society was still resilient. He said collective efforts were needed to restore confidence of the artistes. He said artistes needed fool-proof security and a degree of respect from us.
Senior poet and music expert Laiqzada in his speech stressed the need for creating awareness regarding the art of music and especially woman artistes and singers. He regretted that female performers were not only barred from adopting the profession of music but also they were being attacked or even killed. Master Ali Haider said that although KP government had taken many measures to improve condition of the artistes‘ community but demanded more facilities and opportunities for them so that they could boost soft image of the country. He said that qualified artistes should be posted at KP culture directorate for raising issues of the artistes.
Culture Journalists Forum (CJF) Chief Ihtisham Toru told participants that his organization had been highlighting different problems of literati, artistes and musicians. He said the people should also contribute to saving of our art and culture. He said that CJF would always stand with artistes and singers in difficult times. He said that artiste’s community had suffered hardships in the ongoing militancy and extremism. “Time has come to stand up against these menaces. ‘We cannot be silent spectators any longer,” Toru vowed.
Professor Abaseen Yousafzai remarked that artistes’ being ambassadors of peace should be given respect and safety. He asked how a world without music would sound. “Imagine a world without music. Artistes, performers and musicians spread and promote our real image and represent our face to the entire world. Let’s not talk of their sufferings only. Let’s every one of us contribute to help them outright. Let’s sing with them and share their destitute. Let’s celebrate our artistes and singers,” Yousafzai appealed.
Akbar Hoti, a representative of KP Culture Directorate said that work on cultural policy was in the last stage and would be soon placed before the concerned officials. He said the proposed endowment fund had a comprehensive health and education package for the artiste’s community. “Several steps are being taken to ameliorate plight of the artistes, literati and musicians,” Hoti assured.
Imran Yousafzai, chairman Peshawar Press Club cultural committee, Aziz Buneri Finance Secretary Peshawar Press Club , Fitrat Buneri, and senior culture activist Amjad Ali Khan, and Professor Nasir Ali Syed also spoke at the event.