Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Express Tribune
THE NEWSThe 75-year old widow of the known Pashto singer, musician and composer Rafiq Shinwari is living a miserable life in almost a century-old house in Peshawar. In an interview, this correspondent found that Ashoora Bibi, who is suffering from tuberculosis (TB), skin disease and high blood pressure, had no money to pay her medical bills. The septuagenarian said she had a happy family life when her husband Rafiq Shinwari was alive. She said her husband served the government and private television channels and radio stations for 50 years and entertained the public but her fate was sealed when he died on January 3, 1991. “I was living like a queen of the family when Rafiq Shinwari was alive,” Ashoora Bibi remarked, hastening to add that she is now struggling to make both ends meet. The house where she is living with her son-in-law is located a few feet from the Sattar Shah Bacha Colony graveyard in Dabgari Gardens. Bed-ridden and too weak to work, Ashoora Bibi said she did not like to leave the Dabgari Gardens as her husband and two sons were buried at the nearby Sattar Shah Bacha graveyard. She said her two sons, Shafiq Shinwari and Ghulam Ali Shinwari died at a young age. “My younger son Ghulam Ali died three months before his father’s death while Shafiq Shinwari was killed in a car accident a few months after the death of his father,” she added. Ashoora Bibi said she used to go to the graveyard and kiss graves of her sons and husband on a daily basis for her satisfaction, but now she has become too weak to do that. Ashoora Bibi broke into tears when she was asked who was supporting her. She said her daughter Husna Shinwari and her husband Niamat Gul Shinwari were taking care of her after the death of Rafiq Shinwari. “No government official visited me after my husband’s death. Only my son-in-law is supporting me,” she said. In a corner of the house several national awards including the presidential award that Rafiq Shinwari received on August 12, 1985 from Gen Ziaul Haq were kept but all were covered in dust. “What will I do with these medals, certificates and awards?” she asked, adding that the government failed to help her after her husband passed away. She criticised the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for making tall claims of helping the artistes and said she made several applications to the chief minister and governor but no action was taken to assist her. She said she was counting her days and wanted to return the awards to the government before her death. Recollecting the memories of her life, Ashoora Bibi said she was living a happy life in Alam Khani village of Landikotal subdivision, Khyber Agency, about 50 years ago. She said later they moved to Peshawar as her husband used to go to radio stations and other functions in the city. To a question, she said her husband Rafiq Shinwari was a humble man and a caring husband and father. “He never exchanged harsh words with us or anyone else,” she recalled. “I sold my gold ornaments and other valuables for my medical treatment but I have nothing more to sell to buy medicines,” Ashoora Bibi said. Her son-in-law Niamat Gul Shinwari said he also struggled to get some compensation for his mother-in-law but to no avail. He said he had a tea stall but could not continue the business as he had to look after his mother-in-law. Rafiq Shinwari’s daughter Husna Shinwari, who has graduated from the University of Peshawar, said her father was a legend. “He wasn’t merely an artiste of Pashto music but played the role of an institution for Pashto singers and composers. My father polished the skills of singers like Khayal Muhammad who is now famous all over the world,” she opined. Rafiq Shinwari sang the first national song of Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari, known as Hamza Baba, from Radio Pakistan Peshawar.During the 1965 war, Rafiq Shinwari sang patriotic songs. His efforts were appreciated by the authorities and he was awarded commendation certificates and prizes. Among others, he composed songs for the melody queen Noor Jehan, Shaukat Ali, Iqbal Bano and Nighat Seema.