PESHAWAR: A group of artists here on Wednesday put up a long list of demands urging Khyber Pakhtunkhwa culture directorate to take concrete steps for improving their miserable condition and threatened to stage a protest in Islamabad if their demands were not met.
Artists including folk singers, musicians, and radio, TV and stage actors attended the meeting called by action committee comprising Sardar Yousafzai, Dr Niaz Ali, Zulfiqar Qureshi and others.
Sharing his views, Sardar Yousafzai, a noted folk singer from Malakand told the meeting that despite assurances from government officials, no step was taken yet for the welfare of the KP artists and many senior artists were bedridden while others were suffering the brunt of poverty and Covid-19 lockdown most artists became emotional and their eyes welled up while expressing tales of their hardships and miseries saying that artists being a sensitive segment of the society could not lay their hands before others. “Where should we walk up to and who would listen to our cries, should we break our musical instruments,” Sardar Yousafzai said in shivering voice.
Yousafzai said that artists had no option to quit their profession for good because KP culture to department seemed to have no plan for ameliorating their miserable plight of the artists and musicians and they were left with no option but to put up a strong resistance against anti-artists policy the government.
“We have walked up to the Chief Minister, Mahmood Khan and officials of the KP culture directorate but all in vain as artists are being literally starved because the lone city theatre Nishtar Hall has been shut since long, no literary or cultural event has been organized to engage the artists. The State-run radio and TV also has deprived artists of their rights to perform to earn livelihood to feed their families,” the folk artist complained.
Yousafzai said that artists had forwarded the list of their genuine demands to the concerned officials and expected a due response from them if were not given consideration then they would be forced to stage a strong protest in Islamabad.
The demands list he said included the provision of monthly stipend especially to elderly artists and folk singers, free education, health card and handing over of Nishtar Hall to artist’s community.
Dr Niaz Ali, a popular TV artist old that around 2000 artists were in deep financial constraints and KP government had turned a deaf ear to listen to their cries and their condition was going from bad to worse as many were forced to begging while several others had quit their profession.
Waseema Khan, a senior TV artist on the occasion said that condition of female artists was the worst and KP culture department failed to provide any relief to artists and performers and it caused the entertainment industry to exist even. She said that KP artists presented a sad picture of the incumbent government’s policy towards artist’s community.
Senior TV actor Javed Babar, Batin Farooqi, Musrat Malik and Hameedullah Jan also spoke at the meeting.