Beloved Pakistani Singer Ghazala Javed Killed Trying to Pursue Career

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Now to another story of instability in Pakistan, this one with a violent end, about Ghazala Javed, a well known Pakistani singer. She fled the Taliban to pursue her career. Last night she was gunned down as she was leaving a beauty parlor in the northwest Pakistan city of Peshawar. Her father was with her and he was also killed. Ghazala Javed was just 24 years old. Zarghuna Kargar is with the BBC's Afghan service in London. Zarghuna, we know that the Taliban have had a very uneasy relationship with music and with artists. Has it been determined why Ghazala Javed was murdered?

Zarghuna Kargar: The police say that it might be some kind of personal family matter, that the killer might be her ex-husband because she left him. Apparently she was going to marry someone else and he was angry and he was giving her threats, but if you look at the reality of singers, female singers in the region, not only in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, for a woman to become a singer and to perform on T.V. and stage is in concept, it's a taboo. Even listening to music was banned and Ghazala was very popular. Many of her listeners and fans were men actually.

Werman: Were men you're saying?

Kargar: Yes, I see comments on Facebook since last night and some say it is the struggle of passion in women to prove to themselves that, look what they can do, they can become singers, they can become popular and people with talent, they can come out, but they shut them up by killing them, and it's not only Ghazala Javed. Last year Amina Das , another female singer was killed. There are female news readers being assassinated just because they come to public.

Werman: You pointed out that she came from Pakistan's notorious Swat Valley where Taliban militants were established. Tell us more about Ghazala and her music because she must have been pretty dedicated to her craft at a young age if she escaped the Taliban to make music.

Kargar: She was, she started singing at a very young age and she became very, very popular because she did a lot of [inaudible] singing with [inaudible], one of very, very famous male singers for Pastuns and Pastun language and she did a lot of film songs with him, together, and she became very popular lately. She did a lot of performance on Pakistani national T.V. and she sang mostly about love, about her country, about her culture, about her traditions. I live in London these last 10 years and I have been listening to her songs.

Werman: How did you react when you heard about her killing?

Kargar: I'm very upset because I know, I've lived in Peshawar. It's a very strict society, it's a very strict community. For a woman to come out on T.V., it's a big step. I knew about her bravery, I knew about her courage and she's a clear example of what [Pashtun] women can go through if they dare to show their talent.

Werman: How do you think Ghazala's music is now going to translate? Will she become a martyr and her songs take on a new meaning?

Kargar: I am sure the people who have killed her might have finished her life, but they will never be able to omit the love of people for her. I'm sure they're not able to delete all her songs and all her videos from YouTube, from internet, from Facebook pages. All her pictures are all around Facebook and YouTube and Twitter today and people will listen to it more and more and more, I think.

Werman: Zarghuna Kargar with the BBC's Afghan Service speaking with us about the killing of Pakistani singer, Ghazala Javed. Thank you very much indeed.

Kargar: Thank you.

[song excerpt]