Afghan singers who escaped to Pakistan say they had no choice but to flee when the Taliban took power in Afghanistan.
The BBC spoke with six singers who crossed the border to Pakistan illegally and are now living in hiding. One said he feared he would be executed if he stayed in Afghanistan. The Taliban have banned music and are accused of executing a folk singer in northern Baghlan province in August. The militant group has not responded to the allegation.
Singer Fawad Andarabi’s son Jawad told the Associated Press that his father was shot in the head at the family’s farm in the Andarab valley. Khan (not his real name) was based in Kabul for the past 20 years and sang and played music at weddings across the country. Folk singers are popular at Pashtun weddings.
Music had been banned under the previous Taliban regime but business had been good since they were overthrown in 2001, he said.As the Taliban advanced across the country this year Khan and others were unconcerned; they believed that the militant group had changed and would allow them to continue their music-making.
But after the Taliban took control of the capital last month, armed men – who Khan believes were Taliban fighters – came looking for him and smashed up his instruments. “At midnight my office guard called me and said some people came with guns and broke all the instruments, they are still here and asking about you,” he said. He and his family left Kabul in the early hours of the following morning. He now says he was wrong about the Taliban.
The singers and musicians who have fled Afghanistan via the Torkham and Chaman border posts are now hiding in the suburbs of Islamabad and Peshawar and trying to find a way to seek asylum outside Pakistan. Hassan (not his real name), another singer who is now living with a friend in Rawalpindi, told the BBC that he believed the Taliban would execute him if they found him because he had sung a song for the Afghan national army before the fall of Kabul.