Pakistan: Musicians and artists are returning to Swat Valley




Musicians and artists are returning to Swat Valley

After a military operation against the religious extremists, artists are now returning back to Swat Valley in northern Pakistan, reported The Express Tribune.

Fazal Khaliq wrote for The Express Tribune: “The Swat valley, once famous site for shooting local Pashto dramas and video songs, was completely paralysed after the local Taliban burned down music and DVD shops, closed cinemas, killed and threatened dancers and banned people from listening to music, plunging the once relatively liberal tourist centre into a hell.

They bombed hundreds of entertainment shops, claiming music and movies as against the teachings of Islam. They also banned shooting of films and recording of songs. The local artists had to migrate to other parts of the country for safety and earning their livelihood.”

Fazal Khaliq had seen Umar Rahman, a local artist, perform in the video market on the second day of Eid. “It was miserable when the Taliban took control of the region, our other friends migrated to Mansehra and Abbottabad where they took part and shot short films and dramas. I am glad they are all returning now,” Umar Rahman told the reporter.

Business is picking up
Jamil, a resident of Mingora, told Fazal Khaliq: “This year we celebrated Eidul Azha, performed our sacrifice in a better way and met people freely because we were not fearful for our lives.”

Iftikhar, a video-shop owner in Mingora bazaar, was quoted as saying: “I have been in this business since 1990, our business completely came to a standstill during the insurgency but this Eid, the business of movies and dramas is picking up momentum. Our markets are full of people.”

Report from Lahore
“The arts seem to be undergoing something of a slow revival as a nation beset by flooding, terrorism, and instability looks for inspiration,” wrote Issam Ahmed from Lahore to the Christian Science Monitor in the US.

“Because musicians remain wary of bomb threats, they’ve had to adjust the presentation of their messages,” he writes: “Instead of high-profile festivals, artists have taken to the airwaves and the country’s burgeoning cable and satellite channels. Over the past three years, Coke Studio, an online live-performance venue for musicians, has led the way with a series of shows uniting singers from the Sufi Islamic religious order with Pakistani rock stars. The female pop duo Zeb and Haniya also helped popularize the music of the ethnic Pashtuns who reside on the troubled Pakistani-Afghan border via the site.”

Issam Ahmed quoted folk the musician Arieb Azhar as saying:

“Terrorism and violence is a form of communication. If someone shoots or slaps you, it’s also communication. But music by its very nature goes against the concept of extremism of any form. Music is an outlet for someone to express what they want to say aesthetically; not to be violent, but to say it beautifully. It’s the most sublime form of communication.”



The Express Tribune – 20 November 2010:

‘Swat’s entertainment market picking up’

Christian Science Monitor – 26 November 2010:

‘In a Pakistan beset by conflict, the arts see nascent revival’

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – 7 December 2010:

‘Taliban Has Failed To Kill Pashtun Musical Spirit’

PRLog – 21 November 2010:

‘Taliban Banned Music in Afghanistan Gaining Popularity’

Go to top
Related reading on