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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 13:09 GMT
Musicians claim police harassment
Peshawar
Peshawar borders Afghanistan
Pakistani musicians living near the country's border with Afghanistan have complained they are being harassed by hardliners attempting to stamp out music and movies.

Several artists in Peshawar, North West Frontier Province, said they have been arrested and treated unfairly by police on the request of hardline Islamic parties.

They claim it is part of a move to crack down on the arts by a six-party alliance of religious parties.

Pashto-language singer Gulzar Alam said he was humiliated when arrested while performing at a private wedding.

Mr Alam was accused by police of drinking alcohol and rowdy behaviour but later released.

Musician Mubin Khan said he was arrested with half a dozen colleagues and fined for "loitering".

"They (police) were angry that we kept our windows open while playing music," Khan told Reuters news agency.

Human rights

He said police had told shopkeepers to keep their shutters closed so musical instruments could not be seen.

Human Rights Commission officer Tariq Khan said the organisation was planning to file a court case in support of the musicians' plight.

"Where is the law against music in Pakistan?" Mr Khan told Reuters.

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) alliance came into power in October and includes pro-Taliban groups who support a strict interpretation of Islam.

When the Taliban ruled over Afghanistan music and film were banned, causing many musicians to flee to Peshawar.

Publicly the police have denied there is a crackdown on musicians in Peshawar.

Provincial minister for culture Raja Faisal Zaman denied police had been given orders but said the government wanted musicians to work under Islamic "parameters".

The MMA has already banned music from being played on public transport.

See also:

13 Oct 02 | South Asia
15 Dec 02 | Entertainment
03 Jan 02 | Entertainment
01 Nov 01 | Entertainment
29 Jan 03 | Country profiles
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