‘95% artists living in miserable conditions’
PESHAWAR: Artists Welfare Association Zoom (AWAZ) President Tariq Jamal said that 95 percent artists in NWFP were living in rented houses in squalor because they had fewer opportunities to perform on the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) because of its limited programming.
He was addressing a function organised by the association on Monday. Speaking on the occasion, Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, information state minister, lashed out at the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) government for placing a ban on cultural activities in Nishtar Hall and said that the federal government would move a proposal to the NWFP government lease out the hall to the artiste’s community. She said, “Nobody can ban cultural activities” and added that some steps taken by the MMA government were sending out bad signals to the world about the country’s image. She urged the people and artists to come forward and undo such propaganda unleashed by the religious extremists. She said that Muslims do not need clerics to instruct them on their relation with Almighty Allah.
She urged the artist community to portray a positive image of the country through their art and said that they (artists) were the ambassadors of the country. She said that the country’s population was increasing at an alarming rate and urged the artists to work to prevent the rise in population. She said that she would take up the issue of building housing society for the artists with the Culture Ministry and announced a grant of Rs50,000 for the welfare of artists.
Javed Babar, AWAZ patron-in-chief, said that the government had built housing colonies for PTV employees, but ignored artists who were actually running the television. He criticised the provincial culture department for its response towards the problems faced by the artists. He also demanded an inquiry into the composition of a cultural troupe that was sent abroad by the ministry. Alamzeb Mujahid, the association’s vice president, said that PTV officials were delaying payment cheques for more than six months and added that the artists had to wait a long time to receive their wages. Later, a musical concert took place in which various artists performed.