Pakistan: Death threats from the Taliban made singer flee his country



Taliban death threats made singer flee his country

Haroon Bacha, a Pashtun singer from the north-western part of Pakistan, fled his homeland two months ago and is now in New York, where he regularly gives performances. A reporter from The New York Times met him and published an interview with the 36-year-old musician on 12 October 2008.

In August 2008, Haroon Bacha escaped from his home near Peshawar, in the North-West Frontier Province, and came to New York, leaving behind his wife, two young children and an extended family.

“If I go back, I will be killed,” he told journalist Ramin Talaie from The New York Times.

Haroon Bacha is known as an eminent Pashto singer who has published dozens of albums and videos, while frequently having performances and appearances on local television.

Hundreds of musicians migrate
“In wake of the detriorating law and order situation along the Pak-Afghan border hundreds of musicians, singers and their families are migrating to other countries and places,” reported Shaheen Buneri, Freemuse‘s correspondent in Peshawar: “Afghan singers who earlier fled Taliban of Afghanistan are now returning back to their war ravaged country,” he told Freemuse.

Haroon Bacha told The New York Times that he started getting threats from the Taliban about a year ago. He was told to stop singing. “Or else…”
“There were letters, there were phone calls, there were text messages. They used to come very frequently back home, just telling me to stop music, or else I would be killed and my family would be…”
Without finishing the sentence, Haroon Bacha trailed off, tears welling in his eyes, reported Ramin Talaie.

“If it continues like this, and these fanatics get power, our social fabric, our institutions — everything will be destroyed,” Haroon Bacha said.

With a sharply reduced audience in the United States, Haroon Bacha faces an uncertain career.

Lost everything
Over the phone, Ramin Talaie also interviewed a news director of the Islamabad-based television channel Khyber News who confirmed that cultural activities are badly affected by what’s happening in the region:

“We have lost everything. We have lost music, we have lost local games, we have lost children playing in the street. It is almost impossible to visualise what is happening there,” he said.

Haroon Bacha


New York Times – 12 October 2008:

‘U.S. Refuge for Singer Fleeing the Taliban’

Haroon Bacha sings ‘Deere Khkulee Tappe’ – video on YouTube

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