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Prominent Pashto singer Mashooq Sultan passes away

December 20, 2016

PESHAWAR: Prominent Pashto singer Mashooq Sultan died here on Monday morning after a protracted illness.

Her Namaz-e-Janaza was offered at Chugalpura in the suburbs of Peshawar city.

A large number of people from different walks of life, including artistes and writers, attended her funeral prayer.Mashooq Sultan, once the melody queen of the Pashto folk music, was leading a miserable life because of her failing health and alleged indifference of the state-run radio and TV that she served for almost four decades.

Hailing from Shah Dherai area of the Swat district, Mashooq Sultan’s family shifted to Mardan when she was a child. She started singing at weddings when in her teens. The singer had more than 1,500 albums to her credit. In 1962, a radio producer, Nawab Ali Khan Yousafzai, spotted her talent and subsequently introduced her to the Radio Pakistan Peshawar.

She represented Pakistan in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan on several occasions. She was the recipient of 600 awards, including the coveted Pride of Performance.

Mashooq Sultan relocated to Peshawar two and a half decades ago in pursuit of better prospects, but the luck did not favour her. Some years ago she had got her one leg fractured that forced her to sell her ornaments to foot the treatment bill.

Her elder son, employed with the Islamabad Police, was living there along with his family. Another son is working with a local organisation while she was living with her youngest son Zawar Hussain, who is serving as clerk at Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, Peshawar.

The singer once supported a family but for the last several years she did not perform at any private function or state-run radio and TV channel. However, knowing about her illness the then Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan gave her a cheque for five lakh rupees on August 26, 2015. 

About adopting singing as profession, Mashooq Sultan in interview to The News a few years ago said: “Since my childhood I used to listen to folk songs. A family affiliated with music lived in our neighbourhood. I would secretly scale the wall and move into their house to take part in ‘Riaz’ (singing practice). My father in-law Mohammad Hussain, a popular ‘tabla nawaz’ (drumbeater), asked my hand for his son. Then Nawab Ali Yousafzai took my audition. I sang a duet along with Gulab Sher in a children’s programme. Later Rafiq Shinwari, a prominent music director, composed a folk song by Fazal Ghani Mujahid. It was the time of live transmission but under special arrangements my song was recorded which is still in great demand from those who listen to Radio Pakistan.”

Regarding acting in Pashto movies, the popular singer said she did perform in classic movies like ‘Jawargar’, ‘Janaan’ and a few others but then switched over to singing. “I thought I could contribute to Pashto music in a better way than acting in movies. Second, I could not concentrate on two different roles. However; I continued playback singing in films whenever offered,” she said while commenting that early 1970s was the golden era of Pashto movies and music.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Maryam Aurangzeb and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Mashooq Sultan.

In their condolence messages, they said Mashooq Sultan was known as melody queen of Pashto folk music. Her contribution to Pashto folk music would always be remembered.They offered condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for the departed soul to rest in eternal peace.