Singer from Tajikistan performs at the festival on Thursday. — White Star
Singer from Tajikistan performs at the festival on Thursday. — White Star

Participants of the two-day Festival for Peace and Regional Convergence attended a colourful cultural evening on Wednesday featuring folk music from Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

The event was hosted by the training and research centre Media House at the Lok Virsa rooftop theatre, for guests attending a festival to promote the culture, art and customs of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

The evening began with performances by folk musicians from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who performed famous Pashto songs such as Larsha Pekhawar Ta. Folk singers from Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan also performed and the Sindhi musician Waheed Alan Faqeer received great applause for his famous song Huma Huma Kar Bhaya.

Three Tajik musicians also performed, and one of the singers wowed the audience with her rendition of Punjabi and Indian songs.

Mohammad Khalil Goodar Zazai and Tajjudin Chah Abi, two Afghan singers, were accompanied by three other musicians with whom they performed both Pashto and Persian songs.

Waheeda Shah, an audience member, said such events were very useful for the promotion of regional connectivity.

“I am enjoying this colourful musical night and happy to see people from various neighbouring countries and cities are sitting together and enjoying their art and culture,” she told Dawn.

Such events are a good source of connectivity and a way to promote a softer image of Pakistan and this region, she added.

Earlier, youth and peace ambassadors from all three countries held various sessions aimed at building strong youth networks and connectivity in cultural exchange, art and tourism to promote regional harmony.

This was part of Mediothek Afghanistan’s Youth Ambassadors in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan initiative, which aims to provide a platform to promote the art and culture of all three countries.

Tajik, Afghan and Pakistani artists performed and young people who had travelled between all three countries spoke about their experiences.

At various sessions, youth ambassadors spoke about organising such a cultural festival to bring peace to the region and the role of the youth in such activities. They believed that given the large youth population of the region, they had the potential to play a constructive role in paving the way for a lasting peace.

Media House Director Dr Shahjahan Sayed said: “Let the youth decide the future of this region, as we have given this region a gift of war and terrorism. They are the hope for a bright and peaceful future.”

The festival brought together more than 150 participants, including local government officials, diplomats, academics, civil society activists, journalists, youth group representatives, artists and students.

Dr Sayed said the initiative aims to encourage the youth of Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to exploit the cultural commonalities of their countries to restore a lasting peace and enduring stability across the region.

Originally published in Dawn, September 14th, 2018