Rest of Asia

Pakistani, Afghan singers send love letter to Kabul

Hasan Kazmi/Karachi
Filed on September 22, 2021

Zeb Bangash and Shumali Afghan (Photo: YouTube)

The song is a melancholic one, in which a lover is trying to draw attention of his beloved

Music has no palisades and this duo is out to prove that creativity cannot be restricted. Ever since the Taliban took charge in Afghanistan, music has been banned news of musical instruments and equipment being destroyed are rampant. Most of the artists have fled the country or are about to leave. Amid these turbulent times, a Pakistani and an Afghan singer have sent a message of love to Kabul through lilting, soothing music.

Zeb Bangash, a renowned singer from Pakistan who has sung for Bollywood as well, and Shumali Afghan from Afghanistan have released a song in Dari - Yaar Dami Bashno, which means Love Letter to Kabul in English.

Talking to Khaleej Times, Zeb revealed that she and Shumali had planned to perform in Coke Studio together but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it could not happen. When Shumali, who belongs to a musician family in Afghanistan and had shifted to Canada in his teens, visited Pakistan in December last year, Jeb recorded three songs with him which is actually a tribute to the folk music of Afghanistan.

"Out of these three songs, one is in Dari, while two are in Pashto."

Explaining the context of ‘Love Letter To Kabul’, Zeb said that the song is a melancholic one, in which a lover is trying to draw attention of his beloved by sending a message, imploring her to show mercy on him and at least listen to his agony, even if she can not meet him.

The song is composed by one of the renowned musicians of Afghanistan, Ustad Ghulam Dastagir Shida, who has introduced a dash of Bollywood into Afghani music.

Zeb further explained: "I know that when there is turmoil in any country, people all over the world discuss only one aspect of it, ignoring its beautiful history and tradition.

Zeb said: "When I saw people fleeing the country in distress, I realised that Afghanistan was going to be just another piece of news for the rest of the world. I decided to present something from my side which is related to tradition, history and spirituality of this region. I had earlier decided to release ‘Love Letter to Kabul’ in October but due to the recent events in the country, it was released a month earlier.”

The other two songs will also be released soon, she added.

Zeb believes the present state is very difficult for the art and artists in Afghanistan. Earlier in the 1980s during the Afghan war, artists had to take asylum in Pakistan, she pointed out.

"Being a sensitive section of society, artists are affected most in such a crisis, but at the same time are resilient enough to get back to normal.”

Zeb said she prays for peace and harmony for Afghanistan and its people in these tough times.

"I am an artist and always wish to keep my connection with the public."

She said one cannot throttle art and if suppressed, it springs up with more force. “So when people get a beautiful thing from an artist, they naturally give feedback. This is inevitable. Culture never dies.”

Shumali told Khaleej Times that he actually wanted to bring back the real taste of cultural music that was prevalent in the 1970s in Kabul.

“My father Ustad Shahwali Afghan used to sing these songs at Zeb’s home back in 1979 when the Soviet Union took over Afghanistan and a vast majority of musicians came to the city of Peshawar in Pakistan for livelihood. Zeb and I wanted to connect back and sing these classical songs once sung by our elders at her house.”

Shumali wishes to give a try to an Urdu duet with Zeb someday.

“It might be at my family home! Yes family home where all our elders used to gather for musical evenings. Also Zeb is helping me to pronounce Urdu words correctly so that I can sing some good Urdu songs in the future.”

Shumali is too concerned about these difficult times in Afghanistan, and hoped the people will get out of it soon, “Indeed, our brothers and sisters are going through rough and tough times in Kabul: displaced, struggling to find a way out. But I hope they can settle down in the neighbouring countries till Afghanistan returns to normalcy.”

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