Pashto singer Sitara Younas despite being a Punjabi speaking girl from the Christian community scaled the heights of success and even outclassed some young Pashto singers owing to her inborn talent since her launch of music career.
In a chat with this scribe on the eve of Christmas, she demanded of high-ups of the state-run radio and TV to launch a show titled ‘voice of minorities’ to encourage young talent, as no other forum was available to them.
Sitara Younas’s velvety voice stunned the audience when she sang a popular ghazal earlier rendered by Noor Jahan ‘Sada Hun Apne Piyar Ki’ way back in early 90s on PBC, Peshawar radio show.
She said that around 35 to 40 artists and singers, 10 to 15 of them being women from minorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, couldn’t make it to radio or TV. She has recently released another popular Urdu song of Noor Jahan ‘Main Teray Sung Kaisay Chaloon Sajna’ on the occasion of Christmas to pay a tribute to the legendary singer.
Ms Younas has numerous hit Pashto songs to her credit. She is recipient of many awards but her name has been dropped from nomination list twice for national awards. She lost the count of popular Pashto albums she has released during the last over more than a decade of her music career.
She has a large Pakhtun following in Afghanistan too. “I have declined offers many a times from private Afghan TV channels due to my domestic problems. I know I have diehard fans there. My Pakhtun fans have always given me respect,” she said.
The singer said that she worked hard to carve a niche for herself among a large number of Pashto singers. She regretted that only she and two other artists from her community could benefit from the monthly stipend for the artists. “Why not a special quota be reserved for minority artists. I hope Prime Minister Imran Khan takes notice of it and do something for encouraging talent of minority groups,” he added.
Ms Younas like Nazia Iqbal after doing intermediate received music training from her late father Younas Rahi and shot to fame when she won first award at a PTV show held in 2003. She was given category A and soon she became the most sought after artist for local music directors.
“My forefathers had shifted from Sialkot but I feel proud to belong to Peshawar in the fifth generation. Despite being a Punjabi speaking girl from Christian community, my late father advised me to launch my music career in Pashto. I also sang Urdu, Hindko and Persian numbers but singing in Pashto became my identity mark. I worked hard and once a local producer made me sing a theme for his Pashto play. It had taken me 18 hours. Singing Pashto songs for 15 years, I am able now to read and understand Pashto script,” she said.
Ustad Sabz Ali, a senior music director, said that Sitara Younas had outdone some of Pashto singers because she had mastered the delicacies of music and could pick up any tune of any poetry. He said that if ‘voice of minorities show’ was launched, talent of aspiring artists from the unprivileged minority groups would come to the fore.
Originally published in Dawn, December 24th, 2018