Pakistan: The Taliban’s war on music has done lasting damage



The Taliban’s war on music has done lasting damage

It will take a long time for Swat’s musical culture to recover from the Taliban’s crackdown on music, reported Shaheen Buneri from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty on 3 August 2011.

The Swat Valley was once the only place in Pakistan’s Pashtun regions where women could pursue careers as singers and dancers. Then Taliban extremists banned all music after taking over in 2007. They’ve since been driven out, but their prohibition on music, and especially women in the arts, has done lasting damage to Swat’s musical culture.


RFE/RL Journalist Shaheen Buneri produced this video under a fellowship from the Pulitzer Centre On Crisis Reporting.

“In the past, we held our musical gatherings in the open,” the musician Sherzaman told Shaheen Buneri: “Now people have only small gatherings in private spaces. There are bomb blasts everywhere and people feel frightened.”

RFE/RL: Did some musicians quit playing during the Taliban’s rule?

“Yes, many quit their jobs. Allah is my witness that I never got rid of my harmonium. I thought, if they kilol me, it will be with my harmonium, because I earned my bread with that instrument. Some musicians took their instruments with them when they fled.”


Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) – 3 August 2011:
‘Swat’s Female Dancers Struggle With Taliban’s Legacy’

Go to top
Related reading on

Go to top
More from WOMEX 2004