Thursday, February 9, 2012

Songs of peace from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

The Express Tribune Great song,Thanks ”Express Tribune” for reporting this News,Hats Off… Pukhtunks are liberal and secular minded,they need better, modern Education. Pakhtuns are not fanatic Muslims. They are conservative but in tribal sense not in religious sense. All the retrogressive religious influences like Militant Islam, Political Islam, and Terrorist Islam have been injected into Pashtun body-socials from across the Attock.
Pashtuns are broad-minded tolerant people and their social system is founded on secular credentials.Mwaqar

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is perceived by many as a land which hosts an endless supply of militants, but is once again gaining recognition as a hub for the creative arts. The younger generation of K-P is passionate and concerned about the stereotypes associated with Pakhtuns, which is why musicians like Zeb and Haniya, Sajid and Zeeshan and now Naseer Afridi and Shahab Qamar are using the medium of poetry and music to dismiss preconceived notions.

Telling a tale

Qamar, an engineer in Brisbane, and Afridi, a student in Bahria University, first interacted through Facebook and despite never having been met, managed to release a thought-provoking song on YouTube. The song “Za Pukhtoon Yam”, which translates to “I’m a Pakhtun”, hums promises of change and restoration.

The video begins with a couplet of well-known Pashto poet Ameer Hamza Shinwari which says that, “The enemy brands it as the language of hell, to heaven I will go with Pushto”.

Qamar, the 25-year-old producer, thinks that Pakhtuns are going through a tough phase and labels such as terrorists should only make them work harder for change. “The song reminds us Pakhtuns what our true values are. It asks us to stay put and support each other,” says Qamar. According to the producer, the song sends out a message to everyone outside the Pakhtun community that even Pakhtuns are keen promoters of peace and that they don’t wish to be alienated from the rest of Pakistan. Afridi, who has a small role in Bilal Lashari’s upcoming film Waar, believes that there is a preconceived notion about the Pakhtuns which is untrue. “Everyone likes a joke at a Pathan’s expense. Whether one is buying cheap sunglasses or sending out an SMS joke, a Pathan reference makes everything funnier for some odd reason,” laughs 20-year-old Afridi. “I agree that sometimes these jokes can be hilarious, but at times it hits a sensitive spot.”

Persistance pays off

Naseer and Shahab came to the music scene as a progressive rock band in 2011. Even though their first song “Rise On Your Broken Knees” was not very well received by the listeners, Naseer and Shahab didn’t lose hope and soon came up with the idea of making a Pashto rock song.

Their efforts paid off as the response to “Za Pukhtoon Yam” has been huge with more than 20,000 hits on their official YouTube video. The track managed to strike a chord with non-Pakhtuns as well, which came as a shock to the duo who thought that the song didn’t really have a commercial flavour to it. “The most exciting part is the non-Pakhtuns coming in and expressed their genuine feelings and I think that is our biggest achievement to date,” beams Qamar.

The duo tried to summarise the essence of K-P in their latest song. Afridi, who penned the lyrics explains, “I have tried my best to put the true Pashto identity in a compressed form in these verses. We have had so many peace loving people in our cultural history but sadly we never promote them. People aren’t even aware of the fact that musician Haroon Bacha was threatened by conservative parties that he would be banished from Pakistan if doesn’t stop making music in K-P.”

The duo believes that artists like Ghani Khan, Haroon Bacha and Sardar Ali Takkar are the people who represented the true spirit of Pakhtuns and spread the message of peace and tranquility throughout K-P accordingly.“People like these stalwarts represent us and not terrorists,” Afridi adds.

The message in ‘Za Pukhtoon Yam’

If you hit me with stones

Place a gun to my head

I’ll greet you with a flower in return

I am a Pukhtoon

A hat on my head

Fond of honour

I am the music and dance

I am the tune of love

I am cherished by all

I am a Pukhtoon

I am a couplet of Ghani

Correction: An earlier version of the article said that Qamar belongs to Sydney instead of Brisbane. Also, the word ‘couplet’ was misspelled as ‘couple’. The corrections have been made.

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