Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Ghazala Javed's Murder Further Erodes Trust In Government

Murdered Pashto singer Ghazala Javed
Murdered Pashto singer Ghazala Javed
The murder of prominent Pashto singer Ghazala Javed in Peshawar on June 18 is another warning for lovers of art and music and conveys the message that the government, which is supposed to ensure the safety and security of peaceful and law-abiding citizens, is helpless in the face of the lawbreakers, regardless of whether they are militants or gangs of killers, kidnappers, and bandits.

Ghazala, 24, was on her way to a musical show from a beauty parlor in Peshawar’s Dabgari Garden area when gunmen on motorcycles shot her dead along with her father.

Ironically, Dabgari Garden was a safe haven for singers, dancers, musicians, and artists, who had previously lived peacefully in the district side by side with others for many years. 

That all ended when Muttahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a coalition of five religious parties, came to power in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region as a result of the 2002 general elections.

The MMA government not only stopped singers, dancers, and musicians from performing at the popular Nishtar Hall, but also forced artists and their families living in the congested Dabgari Garden locality to either leave the area or stop practicing the profession they had pursued for decades in order to become "more pious." 

At the same time, religious squads, mostly consisting of angry young men, attacked shops and hurled threats at others for displaying female mannequins. They sent threatening letters warning shopkeepers that their clothes dummies were spreading obscenity in society.

But that was only the beginning.

Taliban Barbarity

The most serious display of Taliban barbarity in Swat Valley occurred in the years 2007-2009, when militants banned the watching of television and stopped people from holding live music events, even in their own homes on occasions such as weddings.

They also forced musicians in Swat Valley's famous Banr Street to stop their activities or leave the area.

During this period, like scores of other performance artists' families, Ghazala Javed decided to move to the safety of bigger cities such as Peshawar, Lahore, and Karachi.

While Ghazala was able to get some respite after leaving Swat Valley and could continue her singing in Peshawar and other cities, some other artists were not so lucky.

One of these was the female dancer Shabana.

She was dragged out of her house in the narrow and dark Banr Bazaar and was shot dead at the notorious Green Square, which had been called "Bloody Square" by the locals because the Taliban used to carry out executions of policemen, political workers, government employees, and locals who opposed their views.

This was a period when several male singers joined the Tableeghi missionary group for their own safety while others stopped singing and opted to stay at home.

Prominent among them was Pashto singer Gulzar Alam, who decided to grow a beard and drive a taxi in the streets of Pakistan’s megacity, Karachi, to earn a living for his family.

I still remember the singer Gulrez Tabassum with tears in his eyes as he announced that he was giving up singing during a crowded press conference at the Peshawar Press Club in 2008.

Comedian Alamzeb Mujahid, the heartthrob of young Pashtuns, bade farewell to his flourishing career after he was kidnapped and kept in captivity for several days by the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Islam.

Mujahid subsequently left Pakistan and currently lives in Malaysia. He has not gone back to his previous profession.

A Ray Of Hope

However, many saw a ray of hope after the 2008 general elections, when the alliance of ruling religious parties was defeated and the secular Awami National Party came to power.

Since then, several encouraging steps have been taken, including financial grants for singers and musicians, the organization of cultural shows, and the reopening of Nishtar Hall for stage productions.

Musical events were also revived as was the promotion of music, art, and culture even on school levels.

However, security for artists and musicians is still a nightmare.

It is not clear who killed Ghazal Javed.

In their initial reports, police blamed her ex-husband, whom she married only six months ago and then divorced because he objected to her singing.

Even if we believe the police version of the story, it is the foremost responsibility of the provincial government to provide security for all citizens, particularly female singers.

Earlier, budding singer Aiman Udhas was killed in a similar way when her brother knocked at her door one morning in Peshawar and shot her several times as soon as she opened the gate to see who was outside.

Soon after her killing, police and government officials were seen on television promising foolproof security for artists and vowing to bring Udhas's killers to justice. So far, however, nothing has been done.

Ghazala was confident that she was living in the comparative safety of Peshawar and under a government promoting art and culture, which promised tolerance for all, unlike the province's previous rulers.

However, her trust in the government was misplaced as she was killed in the heart of Peshawar and the killers managed to escape despite police blockades about every 500 meters.

The question now is whether the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will come out with another promise to ensure the safety of artists and singers and bring the perpetrators of violence to justice?

I don't believe this will happen. I doubt whether artists, particularly female singers and dancers, have any faith in this either.

-- Daud Khattak
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jack from: USA
June 19, 2012 17:04
Islam is a peaceful religion. Islam is a peaceful religion. Islam is a peaceful religion... :-/
In Response

by: Jack from: US
June 19, 2012 20:06
your quote is not accurate. US president said "Islam is a religion of peace". Basta
In Response

by: Jack from: US
June 19, 2012 20:12
The above poster is not me but a jealous or envious RFE/RL staffer.
In Response

by: Demetrius Minneapolis from: Jack's House
June 19, 2012 22:03
Which Jack(a**) is the real Jack(a**)?
If it was an RFE staffer, I'd commend them for utilizing a sense of humor.
In Response

by: Hawkish from: Islamabad
June 19, 2012 20:22
Jack this has nothing to do with islam, it's about pashtoon and/or afghan culture, they don't allow women to interact with men and they're still backward, they are uneducated they don't know anything other but honor killings, honor killings has nothing to do with islam, so cut the crap.
In Response

by: Mahboob Khan from: Islamabad
June 20, 2012 08:13
Islam does not mandate killing of any one without a fair trial. A person is deemed innocent until proven guilty. Having said, I live here and I know for sure that majority of these singers and artists indulge in adultery in the guise of "arts and fashion". Islam or for that matter Judaism has strict rules about adultery but again the crime shall be fully investigated and the person concerned should receive fair and free trial. Personally I do not know this girl and I also do not know the real cause of her brutal murder. I also believe it is relevant if I post for you chapter 23 from OT (Ezekeil):
In Response

by: EM from: Abu Dhabi
June 21, 2012 06:54

Islam: Making a True Difference in the World - One Body at a Time

Islam's Latest Contributions to Peace
"Mohammed is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless
to the unbelievers but merciful to one another" Quran 48:29

2012.06.20 (Logar, Afghanistan) - Four children and two women are among eight innocents torn apart by a Religion of Peace bomb.

2012.06.20 (Khost, Afghanistan) - Mostly civilians are victimized by a Fedayeen suicide blast that leaves at least twenty-one dead.

2012.06.19 (Damaturu, Nigeria) - Twenty-five people lose their lives to coordinated attacks by BH Islamists.

2012.06.19 (Yathedaung, Myanmar) - Muslims attack and kill three Buddhist villagers.

2012.06.18 (Mogadishu, Somalia) - Children are egregiously injured by a bomb planted by suspected al-Shabaab.

2012.06.18 (Ramadi, Iraq) - The lives of four civilians at a coffee shop are snuffed out by Jihadi bombers.

2012.06.18 (Ramadi, Iraq) - The lives of four civilians at a coffee shop are snuffed out by Jihadi bombers.

2012.06.18 (Musa Qala, Afghanistan) - Women and children are torn to shreds by a roadside bomb planted by Islamic hardliners.

2012.06.18 (Baqubah, Iraq) - A Sunni detonates himself inside a tent packed with Shia funeral mourners, killing at least twenty-two.

2012.06.18 (Tagab, Afghanistan) - At least six locals are exterminated when religious extremists detonate a bomb at a bazaar.

2012.06.18 (Quetta, Pakistan) - Five Shiite students are blown to bits by Taliban bombers.

2012.06.17 (Trikania, Nigeria) - A Shahid suicide car bomber crashes through a church gate and blows up at least five Christians.
In Response

by: shaker from: Kabul
June 20, 2012 10:54
Government think people are idiot to get baffled by their blind investigation about Ghazala Javed murder. It is a planned game by her ex-husband where local authorities are also included in this. How it is possible to kill a recognized local personage nearby a police station? Just the information about Ghazala Javed is that she is killed through a proper chain (bribe mafia).

In Response

by: Mahboob Khan from: Islamabad
June 21, 2012 19:55
Here is the correct verse 48:29 from Qur'an:
"Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah ; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers - so that Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward."

What's wrong with the above? O, by the way, you may read the Old Testament Bible Deuteronomy and Joshua.

by: Jandarazkhan from: Riyadh KSA
June 22, 2012 15:01
First of all I pray for the soul of the artist and her father.God bless them in hereafter life. After that I will request to all artist and their fans,Orgnize themselves against any power which is harmful to art, artist, or both of them.
Then I will request to the people, art is the status simbole of the artist.If you want to marry any artist girl, think before hundreds times, after that if you marry,Please dont object, dont divorce,dont kill,dont separate,dont throw acid.Because this is your chice,this is your love,this is your wish and goal of affairs.

by: Niaz Khattak from: Cherat
June 24, 2012 00:54
Dear Daud: I appreciate and encourage you to highlight the safety and security issue of singers and musicians but it is getting more alarming day by day.Who killed ghazala Javed and what was fault? must be brought forth in the notice of public at large. I don't believe she must be killed by Taliban as they know the killing of one individual is equal to the killing of all human beings then how they kill a women simply for singing.I think she must have been victim-ed to family conflicts. Anyhow, The government should provide safety and security to the people as it is the primary responsibility of a STATE.

About Gandhara

Gandhara is a blog dedicated to Afghanistan and Pakistan written by RFE/RL journalists from Radio Mashaal (Pakistan), Radio Azadi (Afghanistan), our Central Newsroom, and other services. Here, our people on the ground will provide context, analysis, and some opinions on news from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Send comments or questions to gandhara [at]