August 1, 2020

By Ahmed Saeed


LAHORE

Traders and business communities have often taken to the streets protesting over the losses they have faced because of the lockdowns. But skilled artists such as the Khalid Hussain Qawal Group of Shahdra are left to fend for themselves in these incredibly trying times.



Before the pandemic, the group used to perform in a private café, in Gulberg where several people came to listen to them live. They were able to sweep in a good earning, and even book a couple of shows for later. But from March, they have barely stepped out of their homes, and without any opportunities to sing to a swooning audience, they now spend the time only honing their vocal talents.

Khalid Hussain, the leader of his troupe, carries on the traditions of his forefathers as a qawali singer. He has enjoyed some modicum of reverence and earning, but ever since PTI has come into power, he says, he has been steadily pushed towards the poverty line thanks to the ruling government’s unfavorable economic policies. He had even approached the Ministry of Culture for some form of financial relief but was turned away.

Hussain has had to bear the disappointment of being left behind in the dust by younger singers who steal his music and verses and are showered with fame that was rightfully always his. And now, as the lockdown stretches into months, and the financial crunch closes in, he has become even more desperate.

Khalid Hussain now does not even ask for aid. His only demand from the government is to allow celebratory functions again so that he and his group of singers can once again make an earning with dignity.

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