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Pakistan: Who Killed Pashto Singer Ghazala Javed?

Ghazala Javed, a charismatic Pashto singer was killed in the city of Peshawar. During her lifetime, she always defied Taliban pressure to stop singing. According to reports, Ghazala and her father were shot six times outside a beauty salon. The perpetrators successfully ‘fled leaving them in a pool of blood.’ Pakistan's police investigators suspect her ex-husband, who she had filed for divorce from last year, is responsible for the murders. But some speculate otherwise.

Defying the Taliban

Ghazala was born in the Swat valley which fell to Taliban rule in 2007. When Taliban captured her home town, she was forced to migrate 170 kilometers away with her family to the city of Peshawar.

Ghazala Javed singing a Pashto song. Image taken from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTN6uDrGJio">a Youtube video</a>.

Ghazala Javed singing a Pashto song. Image taken from a Youtube video.

Taliban rule reached its epitome when the Pakistani government was forced to sign a peace agreement with the militant groups Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and  Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammad (TSNM.) The agreement was titled the Nizam-e-Adal (Order of Justice) regulation, and was signed as a cease fire between Sufi Muhammed of TSNM and the government. But TNSM breached the agreement, making an army operation inevitable in the region. It 2009,  the militants were exterminated from  Swat's main town, Mingora, by the Pakistan Army.

Ghazala was a brave women who fought with the traditional and social ethos of her society. She wasn't scared by the Taliban decree banning singers from singing. Fawad Khan aptly comments:

Considering this vile and blind male dominance [in KPK province], Ghazala Javed was a voice to set all these women free and became a hope for every one who wished to pursue their desires.

She frequently travelled to Afghanistan and was highly applauded by Pashto speaking teenagers. A popular Pakistani singer, Bkktayar Khattak calls it a great loss for the future generation:

“Her death is a great loss to Pashto music. She was an inspiration for the fresh batch of singers coming into the Pashto music industry.”

A protest walk was organized by the Tahkleeq Development Foundation (TDF) condemning this horrendous act of terrorism. Arshad Hussain of TDF comments:

“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.”

Likewise, Netizens have condemned this act in the strongest tone. Some consider it a move towards greater Talibanization (aggrandizing of  Taliban thoughts) in Pakistan. Rizvi comments:

The same old fanatic repeat of events. Only this time more grueling (sic).

Possible honor killing?

But the confusion remains whether the Taliban or her ex-husband killed her. Ghazala married Jahangir Khan, a businessman, in 2010 but six months later, she discovered that he had another wife, and demanded a divorce. She also said that he tried to stop her from singing. Anwar Shah Sadaf writes:

“here is no any relation of Taliban with this latest murder, she has shouted by her previous Husband , because she left him 7 months ago, by the force of Court…. I am very sorry for her, she was my best for ever i can not forget her…”

Mike Jenkinson believes the Taliban ideology led to her killing:

I remember a piece about a movie maker in Afghanistan and the problems he had with the taliban. Sad to see these narrow minded idiots are willing to kill someone who doesnt agree with them.

Some comment this murder is a result of the prevailing patriarchal mindset. Muhammad Rizwan A says:

She was killed, because she was woman, women has no life in Pakistan, they can not live their life.
God save Pakistani women…

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that a nightingale has been silenced. She will always be remembered as an endearing voice of our times.

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