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How Terrorism Get In The Way Of Talented Pakistan Music Industry?

Back in the day when Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan chanted the words enthusiastically: Ye Ishq Nahi assan, itna samjh li jye Ik aag ka darya hai or doob k jaana hai (Translation: This love isn’t easy, it’s a river of fire and in order to cross it we have to dive into it.)

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He made the whole crowd go crazy with the wonderful greatness and familiarity that the verse brought with the melody. Little did he know that decades later the youth would still be in awe hearing the famous qawwali, but for different reasons altogether. Now, our comprehension of the words has transformed greatly. These words stir in us a passion and love for the long forgotten music and the struggles each and every musician has to go through, in order to get his voice, his melody and his songs heard by the millions of other Pakistanis, whose ears have had nothing but chaos and loud blasts thundering in them for years.

The musical land of Pakistan has become barren. Once upon a time it was blessed with the likes of Nazia Hassan, the Sabri Brothers, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali Khan, Salamat Ali Khan, Mubarak Ali Khan, Pathanay Khan, Aziz Mian, Reshma, Noor Jehan, Alamgir, Tufail Niazi, Alam Lohar, Mehdi Hassan and Vital Signs. They gave us music ranging from Qawwalis and Sufi music to Pop and Bhangra and anyone that has experienced the blossoming music industry first-hand, cannot stop reminiscing the golden era or feel a strong wave of nostalgia wash over them these days.

Their legacy was continued by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Amjad Sabri, Strings, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Hadiqa Kiyani, Abrar-ul-Haq, Sajad Ali, Fariha Pervez, Arif Lohar, Shehzad Roy and Ataullah Esa Khan. They have tried their best to keep the music alive in the hearts of Pakistanis but only in vain.

Just when the entire world was welcoming the dawn of a new century and celebrating through music, Pakistan was busy preparing itself for the worst to come. Incidents like the 9/11 resulted in The War against Terrorism and suddenly the Muslims were in danger.

While the people in other countries got together for a concert, the only reason Pakistanis got to assemble on a large-scale was the death of another legendary artist.

There were times when the world was clogging its ears with hands-free for the sake of listening to beautiful music. Meanwhile, we had to shut our ears to the loud bomb blasts and shootings. When the world was pushing its talented musicians to fame, ours grew quieter with time.

The voices that could have made us swoon, knew nothing but how to cry out loud. Unlike the children born in the rest of the world, ours grew up without appreciating music.

Getting a spot under the limelight was not an option for the singers in the perilous conditions that the nation was facing. Unpredictable shootings and blasts instilled in them a fear.

Other than that, the Mullahs with their extremist views about music and the so-called 'religious' groups threatening to 'punish' all those, singers and fans alike, who would carry any practices related to music? Soon, there were no concerts being held as neither a musician nor the innumerable amount of people that would gather for the sake of music was in favor of putting their lives to risk so easily.

One by one, our voices flew away to neighboring countries where they were sure to get worldwide appreciation and earn billions overnight.

We witnessed renowned musicians like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Ali Zafar lending their voice to Indian movies and music industry more than ever- so much that they are beginning to be endorsed by them and vice versa. Attracted by such fame and glory, they refuse to leave India whilst their motherland remains barren of its talent.

Those who chose to stay and sing only for their country face threats every other day. The recent tragedy of the legendary singer, the one to whom the Sabri brothers passed on their magical voice and amazing singing skills, Amjad Sabri was shot to death.

Now, it has been clearer than ever as to how terrorism has adversely affected the Pakistani Music Industry. It also puts a light on the struggles a musician has to make let his voice be heard and the risk that comes with it.

Prominent musicians like Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan (from the band Call) and Rohail Hyatt (of the Vital Sign's fame) have taken the initiative to plant seeds of music into the once barren land of music in Pakistan, by creating platforms such as Nescafe Basement and Coke Studio, respectfully.

Here we see old singers and new ones, joining their hands to come up with brilliant music. Such platforms have proved to be safer than going on stages and performing live. While Coke Studio has brought forward amazing singers like Zeb and Haniya, Qurut-ul-Ain Baloch, Sanam Marvi and Meesha Shafi and has given Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam, and Ali Zafar a reason to come back to their homeland and perform for Pakistanis, Nescafe Basement has paved a way for underground bands and individuals gifted with singing skills to make music and show the world what they have got.

Strings and Shehzad Roy have come up with a different way to nourish the land of Pakistani music. They fight the ridiculous political and extremist religious beliefs that had endangered the art and continues to this day.

They realize that music is the best weapon to stir up feelings in the hearts of Pakistanis and it has been a long time since we have had anything to hear like 'Lage raho' by Shahzad Roy and 'Main tau dekhun ga' by Strings. Following the suit, other bands like Laal have come up with even more witty pieces of music (Remember 'Bol'?), altering the thinking of many Pakistanis regarding music and pushing the Pakistani music industry towards a revolution.

Like other singers in present Pakistan, they chose to dive into the 'aag ka darya (river of fire)' for the sake of their only 'ishq (passion)'- music.

It is important to understand the significance of music for a country like Pakistan, where music is rooted deep in the hearts of everyone. Once it was a land with a rich culture, with music playing a much larger role. For some time, it suffered greatly due to terrorism but now it is trying to stand back on its feet. However, there is still a long way to go before the trees dance freely in the land of music.

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