Pakistan: Sardar Yousafzai

4 February 2009

Audio interview with the singer Sardar Yousafzai who survived an attempt on his life on 15 December 2008. A band of unidentified militants targetted his car in Malakand area of North Western Pakistan to punish him for his work as a popular Pashto singer.

Earlier, a number of Pashtun singers were threatened, harrassed and terrorised by different Pro-Taliban militant groups but the recent attack on Sardar Yousafzai was the most serious incident in this regard. The militant attack left four musicians wounded and one dead. Anwar Gul, who was a senior harmonium player and close companion of Sardar Yousafzai, was killed in the attack.

In the audio interview, Sardar Yousafzai tells about the details of the attack that sent shock waves among all singers and musicians in Malakand region.

Click to listen to audio interview
Listen to interview (in Pashtu language)

  Click to listen to interview with Sardar
Sardar Yousafzai
Duration: 6:45 minutes.
Format: MP3

How does Sardar Yousafzai feel after the attack? Who was responsible for the attack? And why are musicians and singers regularly targetted by Taliban groups in North Western Pakistan?

In this telephone interview with Freemuse’s correspondent, Sardar Yousafzai shares some facts about risks to singers and musicians who lives in his region.

About the singer
Sardar Yousafzai is an enlightened and popular Pashto singer who composed some very famous verses written by prominent Pashtun poets Ghani Khan, Rahmat Shah Sail, Ikramullah Gran, Abasin Yousafzai and Iqbal Shakir with his melodious voice.

About the production
The interview is conducted and translated by Shaheen Buneri, Freemuse’ correspondent in North Western Pakistan. He is also the producer of the video song posted with the report here. Shaheen scripted, hosted and produced ‘Jwand aw Janan’, (‘Life and the Beloved’) — a series of music programmes for Pashto langauge Khyber TV which is based in Islamabad, Pakistan.

“…Fear is there. I feel frightened
every moment because I don’t
know who is my enemy….”

Translation of the audio interview
“We had been travelling for a distance of one and half kilometre from our village, when abruptly six armed men with covered faces appeared on the road. They did not ask us to stop, but started to fire on the two vehicles we were travelling in. The passengers in the first vehicle, where I was sitting, avoided their bullets but in the second vehicle, five out of my ten companions sustained serious injuries,” explains Sardar Yousafzai in the interview.

One of the injured musicians, the harmonium player Anwar Gul, later died from his wound in a hospital in Peshawar.

The deteriorating law and order situation in different parts of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province has not only affected common people in many ways but has also confronted local singers and musicians with new challenges for their security and survival. Initially, it was mostly music shops which were targeted by the militants, but now Pashtun singers and musicians are under severe attacks from different militant organisations.

Pashtun musicians argue that despite the fact that they always promoted peace and love through their songs, they and their families still feel insecure in the region. Sardar Yousafzai expressed his fear in these words:

“Fear is there. I feel frightened every moment because I don’t know who is my enemy. I don’t know him and I am not aware when he will target me again. This time I survived the attack, but my enemy will attack again when he finds a chance. The problem is that I don’t know who will be my attacker and why does he want to kill me.”

Shaheen Buneri ends his audio report from Pakistan by saying:
It is high time that the concerned authorities take concrete steps for restoring peace to North Western Pakistan and protect Pashtuns’ social, historical and cultural heritage from militants’ onslaught.


The north-western part of Pakistan

Click to read more about Anwar Gul
Murdered: Anwar Gul

Click on photo to read more about the incident



Sardar interviewed by Swedish tv
The Swedish national tv station SVT published a report from Swat on 12 February 2009. It can be seen online on this webpage:
The report from Pakistan runs from 17:43 to 24:18 in the video.

Journalist Andreas Zernell from STV2 Aktueltt interviewed Sardar Yousafzai (named Sardar Takkar in the report) who told him that “even if a miracle should happen, it is going to take at least another 50 years before the situation is back to normal around here. I don’t know if I will be alive by then.”
He also said that “the fact is that security is non-existing in this country now”

Andreas Zernell interviewed a music trader by the name Sherdil Khan as well.



A revolutionary song by Sardar Yousafzai on

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