Peshawar, Pakistan – Music is slowly returning to Peshawar, the city where the Pakistani Taliban had banned musicians.
The northwestern city has seen a continuing cycle of violence and destruction at the hands of Pakistani Taliban fighters over the past decade, which also put at risk the livelihoods of musicians, many of whom supported their families through their art.
“Life was too hard in the last couple of years when we did not have jobs. How can you play music when there is death and destruction everywhere?” says Ahmad Gul, a 41-year-old Pashto singer.
However, in a recent move, the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has announced a fund which will give $300 a month to 500 musicians in order to support their art.
It is also planning to spend $5m to help revive the rich cultural heritage of the province.
The move to help musicians is seen by many as a small but a positive step towards protecting cultural heritage.
The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban, is an armed group allied with neighbouring Afghanistan’s Taliban. It was formed in 2007, uniting a number of groups into a single one.
The Pakistani Taliban’s stated objective is to enforce its strict version of Islamic law, introducing and supporting punishments such as public executions, stoning and amputations.