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National

January 20, 2009
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Entertainment industry of Frontier hangs in the balance

National

January 20, 2009

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PESHAWAR: As growing trend of militancy has been badly affecting every sphere of life, particularly in the NWFP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas, those affiliated with music and showbiz are suffering most.

Cultural activities are next to nil in the province that is already lacking entertainment facilities. The only theatre in the provincial capital—Nishtar Hall—wearing almost a deserted look despite reopening by the incumbent government after remaining closed for almost five years during the MMA rule in the province.

Musicians and TV drama artistes are either leaving the province and country or being forced to quit the career. Senior TV artiste Arshad Hussain, singers Gulzar Alam, Haroon Bacha and Sardar Yusufzai, comedian Mirawas and Alamzeb are among the victims.

Noted Pashto singer Gulzar Alam has already bid farewell to singing while famous TV/ CD drama artiste and comedian, Alamzeb Mujahid, commonly known as Jaanan, announced quitting the field last Friday after winning release from the kidnappers.

Gulzar was in hot waters after the MMA-led government launched a crackdown on musicians and dislocated musicians from Dabgari Gardens area. He had even left the province and shifted to Quetta and Karachi but could not continue singing to earn his livelihood. After running from pillar to post, he ultimately said goodbye to singing.

However, Alamzeb’s case is different as he announced retirement from the showbiz on the very next day of his release from the captivity of unknown abductors. Like Gulzar, who has sported beard and spent time in Tableegh (preaching of Islam), Alamzeb is all set to embark upon his new mission of joining the Tableeghi Jamaat.

Either by force or on his own, the famous comedian parted ways with apparently happy and jolly artistes comrades. “I will go for “Tableegh” in a couple of days. Presently I am busy with guests and will embark upon 40-day Chilla very soon. I believe Almighty

Allah have chosen honourable source of income for me that will be better than the one I am quitting,” Alamzeb told The News.

He was still reluctant to talk to media and was tight-lipped over his kidnapping saga. To a question where he would like to go for “Tableegh”, he said it depended on the will of Tableeghi Jamaat’s elders to decide his destination.

Belonging to Charsadda district, the noted artiste had left education department as PTC teacher eight years ago though he had been affiliated with the showbiz for about two decades. Arshad Hussain is another victim, who is yet to get out of the trauma he faced after kidnapping. He said to have knocked the doors of all concerned government authorities to get compensation for the loss he incurred due to kidnapping, but failed to win any relief.

He was kidnapped from the hometown of NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti, Mardan, but nobody, including the chief minister and minister for culture paid any heed to his suffering. The artiste has also lost the alternative source of income (job in HIV/Aids project of the Health Department), as the project has already ended.

Singer Haroon Bacha has left the country because of the threats from unknown militants and sought asylum in the USA while another singer, Sardar Yusufzai narrowly escaped a murder attack sometime back. A harmonium player in his orchestra, Anwar Gul, died in the attack.

This uncertain situation has disturbed the stakeholders in the music and showbiz and brought a halt to cultural activities while the government seems hapless to keep the industry alive and provide protection to artistes.

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