Turkmenistan adopts healthy food programme
Turkey maintains role in Afghanistan
FATA could be polio-free by end of 2013, officials say
Kyrgyzstan considers tighter firearm regulations
KP sees musical instrument business rebound
Customers buy instruments despite opposition by militants
By Syed Ansar Abbas
PESHAWAR – Amid militancy and violence in the country, people of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the tribal areas are trying to quench their thirst for cultural activities through music.
Music lovers across the country come to the Karkhano Market to purchase western musical instruments.
“Most of our customers are youngsters,” said Hassan Batani 50, who has run the shop at Karkhano Market for the past three years. “Previously I was dealing in crockery business, but now selling western musical instruments is more profitable.”
Karkhano Market consists of more than two dozen plazas, with a total of more than 5,000 shops. Karkhano Market is famous for foreign goods, many of which come through Afghanistan.
Despite fears of the militancy, the business of western musical instruments is at an all-time high. This boom in business dispels the impression that the Pashtuns are anti -music extremists.
Peshawar isn’t all about terrorism
“A majority of people of the KP are liberal and love music,” Rahim Saranjam Khan, a young musician and vocalist, said, adding that Peshawar’s reputation for terrorism is misguided.
“Peshawar-based music bands have gotten good repute at the national level,” Rahim said. “Though terrorist activities are happening day to day, the youngsters keep music alive in their private functions.”
Rahim, whose grandfather is a provincial politician, said the trend toward music is growing daily.
“This is my third time coming here,” said Shabbir, 32, a builder from Islamabad who was purchasing a piano. “I love music and enjoy it after finishing my job.”
Jabbar, a shop owner, said used pianos sell for Rs. 4,000-20,000 (US $46-228); guitars start from Rs. 5,000 (US $57) and violins cost about Rs. 3000 (US $34).
“First-hand instruments are almost double in prices,” he said.
Rozi Khan, a young shopkeeper from the tribal belt who has been in the business for 10 years, said 70% of his customers are students and youngsters.
Revival of music is good for society
Psychiatrist Dr. Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the increasing interest in music is a positive and healthy sign for society.
“Music, sports, literature and art activities are necessary for healthy society,” he said. “Through music, the youth of the affected province from terrorism try to convey their message of love and peace.”
“Terrorism, Afghan war, poverty, injustice, unemployment and wrong policies of the previous governments badly damaged the society,” Iftikhar said. “Youths are diverting their tension and frustration through music rather than adopting negative means.”
One student explained the importance of music.
“Through music programmes, we try to divert the tension created from bomb blasts and the wave of terrorism,” said Haroon Rasheed, 24, a student at the University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar.
Music has a place in cultural history and has long played an important role in Pashtun culture.
Gulzar Alam, a Pashtu popular singer, said Pashtuns have a passion for their music. In rural areas, people gather in hujras and enjoy local music after finishing their work day.
Gulzar was beaten up while performing at a wedding ceremony in Peshawar during 2003. At the time, the Islamic political coalition Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) was in power in the northwestern province of Pakistan.
Under the MMA, music was banned in public places and Nishtar Hall, the sole entertainment venue in Peshawar, was closed.
Gulzar, and many other singers, fled the province and went to Karachi or Punjab. After more liberal forces came into power, Gulzar returned to KP and resumed singing.
The current government in KP has not only lifted the ban on cultural and musical activities but also reopened Nishtar Hall, where concerts and shows provide entertainment for music lovers.