Local singers and actors have demanded of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to speed up work on its cultural policy and take steps for ensuring their safety.

The demands came during an event held at Peshawar Press Club on Friday to mark the Music Freedom Day. Around 50 events were held across KP and Fata, including Swat, Buner, Mardan, Nowshera, DI Khan, Lakki Marwat and Bannu, to mark the day.

As many as 300 local performers and musicians attended the event. The Cultural Journalists Forum and Peshawar Press Club’s culture committee jointly conducted the function. The theme for this year was ‘music for peace.’

The participants passed resolutions regarding welfare and providing health facilities to the local singers and actors. They demanded free medical treatment for the ailing Hidayatullah, Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, Sidra Ali and Akbar Hussain Ustad. They also passed a resolution condemning alleged mishandling of a group of musicians on their way to home by Mardan police on Thursday night.

Pashto folksinger Wagma Bibi was chief guest while music director Master Ali Haider chaired the function.
Speaking at the event, Wagma said that female singers had been facing numerous problems. She complained that women artists were not being encouraged and even not allowed to come out of their homes despite being talented and having a natural filial for art. “The fact is that there is no social acceptance for female performers in our society. If we claim that we are an art-loving society we will have to give respect to them,” she added.
Actor Ishrat Abbas said that efforts should be made to revive traditional music.

He said that the local artists were in a miserable condition and it was the need of the hour to restore their confidence. He said that artists needed foolproof security and a degree of respect from the society.
Poet and music expert Laiqzada called for creating awareness of the art of music and promoting female artists and singers.

He regretted that female performers were usually barred from adopting the profession of music and even attacked. Master Ali Haider said that though the KP government had taken measures to improve condition of the artist community, more facilities and opportunities should be given to them so they could boost soft image of the country.

He said that qualified artists should be posted at the KP culture directorate for raising issues of the artists.
Ihtesham Toru, chief of Culture Journalists Forum, told the participants that they had been highlighting different problems of literati, artists and musicians.

Prof Abaseen Yousafzai remarked that artists being ambassadors of peace should be given respect and security.
“Imagine a world without music. Artists, performers and musicians spread and promote our real image and represent our face to the entire world. Let’s not talk of their sufferings only. Let’s every one of us contribute to help them. Let’s sing with them and share their sufferings. Let’s celebrate our artists and singers,” Mr Yousafzai appealed.

Akbar Hoti, a representative of KP culture directorate, said that work on cultural policy was in the final stages and would be soon placed before the officials concerned. He said the proposed endowment fund had a comprehensive health and education package for the artist community.

Imran Yousafzai, chairman of PPC cultural committee, Fitrat Buneri, culture activist Amjad Ali Khan and Prof Nasir Ali also spoke at the event. Later, a musical concert was held in which Dilraj, Malala Gul, Sitara Younas, Meena Gul, Hashmat Sahar and Arshad Akbar performed. Gulabkhel Afridi, a Rabab player, entertained the audience by playing charming tunes.

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