Afghan singer moves to Peshawar for work

Rafi Hanif has performed for PTV in the past

Music is falling by the wayside in Afghanistan as artists face threats and constricted incomes from the Taliban’s restrictions on entertainment.

Reports emerging from Afghanistan so far suggest that it has become increasingly difficult for artists and women journalists to continue work. Shortly after the Taliban’s coming to power, folk singer Fawad Andarabi’s killing showed that trouble was already on the horizon for entertainers in a country where they had found a way to cope with decades-long instability.

Performers, including families in which music has passed through the generations, have been scrambling for ways to leave after threats and what they described as an “oppressive situation”.

One such story of escape is that of singer Rafi Hanif from Kabul, who has come to Peshawar looking for work to support his family. He has worked with PTV in the past and has performed in several countries.

“Thankfully, the people in Pakistan are really nice,” Rafi told SAMAA TV. “We’ve studied and been trained in music and can’t do anything else.”

According to him, the Taliban are against music and deem it “haram” (forbidden). Music was completely banned during their rule from 1996 to 2001.

Rafi sings in Persian, Pashto and Urdu.

Several performers have set up vegetable and fruit shops after giving up music, which had flourished over the past 20 years in Afghanistan.

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