Pakistan: Popular singer gunned down in music market

19 June 2012
A young singer, Ghazala Javed, was shot dead on 18 June 2012 along with her father by two unknown armed men

The incident happened in the busy Mohallah Nau of Dabgari Garden in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, where the singer was on her way to a musical show from a beauty parlor.

“Two men on a motorbike sprayed bullets and fled, leaving them in a pool of blood,” senior police officer Dilawar Bangash told the news agency AFP. Ghazala Javed received six bullets in her chest, stomach and other parts. Her father was shot in the head. Both were dead before reaching the nearest hospital.

Warning for lovers of music
Security for artists and musicians in the region is still a nightmare, wrote Radio Free Europe’s Daud Khattak:
“The murder of prominent Pashto singer Ghazala Javed in Peshawar on June 18 is another warning for lovers of art and music and conveys the message that the government, which is supposed to ensure the safety and security of peaceful and law-abiding citizens, is helpless in the face of the lawbreakers, regardless of whether they are militants or gangs of killers, kidnappers, and bandits,”

Dabgari was once a popular market for musicians, a safe haven for singers, dancers, musicians, and artists, who for many years had lived peacefully in the district, until five religious parties, the MMA coalition, came to power in the region in 2002. They stopped singers, dancers, and musicians from performing at the popular Nishtar Hall, and forced artists and their families living in the congested Dabgari Garden locality to either leave the area or stop practicing the profession they had pursued for decades.

Ghazala Javed was seen as the leader of a resurgence of female singers in the province after a period of Taliban intimidation against musicians and dancers. She was nominated for a Filmfare Award in 2010 and received a Khyber Award in 2011.
She had restarted singing on television just a few months earlier.

Marriage dispute
Ghazala Javed, 24, grew up in the Taliban-dominated northwestern district of Swat. She moved to Peshawar in 2009.

Javed sung in her native Pashto language and released more than two dozen albums that were popular among Pashto speakers in the northwest of Pakistan.

She married businessman Jahangir Khan in 2010, but demanded a divorce after finding out he had another wife and because he objected to her singing. He tried to ban her from singing, her family was quoted as saying.

Police reportedly regard her ex-husband a prime suspect in the case, however Police is still investigating to find out whether the incident could be related to terrorism of the Taliban.

In recent years, several singers and musicians in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province have been gunned down by the local Taliban, who have declared music ‘un-Islamic’, and musicians have fled the northwest region after receiving threats from the militants.

Protest walk
“Today artists of this region are again being harassed and scared because the government and human rights organisations have failed to protect the artists. It is an attack on freedom of expressions, and Takhleeq Development Foundation along with its 98 members and other culture organisations and individuals condemn the incident,” wrote Arshad Hussain from Peshawar.

Their protest has been published in print and electronic media to show solidarity to the fight against terrorism in the arts world. “We are determined to continue our work and not to give up,” wrote Arshad Hussain.

Takhleeq Development Foundation currently prepares to call to a press conference and a protest walk to mobilise the artists community in the region in order to “build pressure that can ensure that the culprits are arrested and brought to the court of justice.”

A couple of years ago, another popular woman singer, Ayman Udas, was killed in a similar way when her brother knocked at her door one morning in Peshawar and shot her several times as soon as she opened the gate to see who was outside.



Google News – continuously updated:
Search: “Ghazala Javed”

Dawn / AFP – 19 June 2012:
‘Pashto singer Ghazala Javed shot dead’

The News – 19 June 2012:
‘Pushto singer Ghazala Javed shot dead’

Rawnaq News (in Farsi language):

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – 19 June 2012:
‘Ghazala Javed’s Murder Further Erodes Trust In Government’


Ghazala Javed
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Al Jazeera, video report from Peshawar – 28 May 2012:
Pakistan musicians: Singers silenced by threat of Taliban
“Many have left Peshawar over the past eight years but some
are determined to keep the music alive in northwestern city.”
By Kamal Hyder


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