It is perhaps for the first time in the history of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that services of noted poets and singers are being hired by nationalist and liberal political parties for running their election campaign.
Although Bacha Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgar Tehreek had patronised poets and writers to take part in the movement in the early 30s, that was a grand political drive, not an election campaign.
This time around, the literary-cum-cultural wing of ANP at Bacha Khan Markaz, probably inspired by PTI’s display of DJ Butt at its gatherings and sit-ins, has planned to sponsor popular songs to attract youth in particular to vote for them.
Experts believe the new trend would boost local music market.
In the early 80s, Pashto singers -- Gulzar Alam, now settled in Kabul; Sardar Ali Takkar, now based in the US; and a few others -- had set the trend by singing out revolutionary poetic pieces of progressive poets including Ghani Khan, Ajmal Khattak and Rahmat Shah Sail but that trend declined owing to growing militancy till last general elections in 2013. Now once again poets and singers are entering the arena of political campaigning to support their families and mobilise voters through their talent.
Major political parties in the province including PML-N, PPP, ANP, PTI and MMA have reactivated and redesigned their respective social media cells to attract their voters. Noted Pashto singers Hashmat Sahar, Ashraf Gulzar, Fayyaz Kheshgi, and Master Ali Haider have launched their songs so far and even MMA has approached poets and writers to pen inspiring patriotic pieces for its election campaign.
Saidwali Jan, a local cleric affiliated with MMA, said that the alliance had not hired services of poets but dedicated and voluntary literati and renderers, who had composed poems with religious themes, would be invited to large public gatherings to warm up MMA supporters.
The music studios in Peshawar are busy these days in recording poetic pieces promoting election agenda, political slogans, manifestoes and tribute to party leaders of political parties in the voices of noted singers.
Most singers and poets have already released and uploaded their audio and video albums on their respective social media websites sponsored by various political parties, individual candidates and even political workers in their own capacities.
Karan Khan, a popular singer, told this scribe that audience would definitely give credit to him for releasing his song titled ‘Bacha Khani Pakar Da’ in 2015. He said that a section of his fans criticised him severely for promoting cause of ANP.
He said that then he had to clarify to his fans that he didn’t have any affiliation with any political party but was only inspired by the non-violence philosophy of Bacha Khan.
He said that poets and artists had the right to exploit such occasions as it would help to boost local music market and further hone their talent and uphold their status in the eyes of the general public.
ANP has already recorded a few inspiring poems in Pashto sung by noted singers to motivate its works for driving the election campaign in a befitting manner. Most poems and songs promote party manifesto, nationalism, love for values and a progressive Pakhtun society.
Senior singer Master Ali Haider told this scribe that he had released his song sponsored by Bacha Khan Markaz. He said that such inspiring poems motivate a spirit for change through vote among people. He said other artists should also use their talent to serve the people and land.
Originally published in Dawn, June 26th, 2018