Today in Kot Addu: Remembering Pathanay Khan

Posted on April 28, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Music, People, Poetry
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Adil Najam

Today, April 28, there is a folk music program being organized in Kot Addu to mark teh 7th death anniversary of Pathana Khan. This is not the type of event that people talk about. But they should.

I remember, back in March 2006, when I heard that Pathanay Khan had died, my eyes had swelled up.

Maybe its because I am the emotional type. Or maybe it was because Pathanay Khan had introduced me to the beauty of Saraiki sufiana kalam and there are very few things, if any, that even remotely resembles the spiritual and musical power and prowess of Pathanay Khan singing ‘menda ishq vi toun, menda yaar vi toun‘ or ‘mera Ranjan hunn koi hour.’

I suspect, however, that it was the conditions in which he died that really got to me. Some years ago, the eqully spell-binding Muhammad Jumman (of the ‘yaar daadi aatish ishq nay lai aye‘ fame) had reportedly died in rotting conditions in the corridors of a Karachi hospital. A nation that should have been in awe of him had been unaware and uninterested in the conditions of the maestro. Pathanay Khan’s death came in a similar state of personal impoverishment and national neglect.

I was reminded of all of this when a reader sent me this news item from Dawn about the event today in Kot Addu:

Awards of Pathaney Khan to be auctioned

MUZAFFARGARH, April 25: Iqbal Pathaney Khan braves a scorching day going about from one office to another, one person to another, to give cards for the April 28 death anniversary of his father Pathaney Khan. Iqbal Pathaney Khan has arranged a folk music programme in his home town, Kot Addu, in which local singers will sing kafis and song of Pathaney Khan to pay homage to the great Seraiki singer. “This time at the music function, I will announce a date for auction of the awards because my family is facing poverty and we never know what we will eat tomorrow.�

“A few people give me some money for the programme and think they are giving me a charity,� Iqbal told Dawn in an exclusive interview. “I never demand any money from the fans of Pathaney Khan. This is what I have learned from my father. “Actually my father died a pauper and left nothing for his four sons and three daughters except this six-marla house, fame as 79 awards.�

“Every year I hold kafi programme to mark his death anniversary, but no MNA, MPA, senator or senior bureaucrat has ever attended the programme,� the son laments. Iqbal accused the PTV and Radio Pakistan of doling out laughable sums to his father. He had harsh words for firms marketing CDs and cassettes as well. The awards include the Pride of Performance President Award (1979), PTV Millennium Award, Khawaja Ghulam Farid Award, Rohi Award, Thal Award, etc.

But the singer’s son finds them of no use.

All of this leaves me sad and rather angry, without really anyone to be angry at. Why do we do this to those who bring us so much joy, I wonder.

As we remember Pathanay Khan I listen to this song clip (scroll forward to where the narration ends, if you want) which, more than any other, is his most famous rendition.

Further Reading: Dr. Manzur Ejaz’s “The Flower of Rohi.

20 Comments on “Today in Kot Addu: Remembering Pathanay Khan”

  1. Salma says:
    April 28th, 2007 2:15 pm

    Dear Adil:
    You have brought tears to my eyes as well. If I do one thing in my life it will be to start a small fund and raise money for the musicians who keep sufi kallam alive and well for us. My connection to Pakistan – from sitting at Qawalli’s at my mothers knee to listening to folk music from the Sindh/Seraiki belt are my living breathing Pakistan. The rich culture that keeps me tied to the country of my birth. The circumstances of Pathaney Khan’s death are truly tragic. Thank you for sharing your emotion and allowing me to connect to another.

  2. SJH says:
    April 28th, 2007 3:23 pm

    I wonder if there is an existing organization that can handle (with transparency) gathering and disbursing funds for indigent artists in Pakistan.

  3. Darwaish says:
    April 28th, 2007 3:36 pm

    Adil Bhai:

    I saw this news story on GEO last night about Pathana Khan’s son selling his father’s awards because of his family’s poverty and to raise money for his own treatment. It really broke my heart but is this something new or strange? We have this long list of national neglect and indifference when it comes to musicians, painters, poets, writers …

    I think Pathana Khan’s son is doing the right thing by selling his father’s awards if by doing so, he can bring some change in his family’s miserable living conditions. I also wonder why we come up with these news stories and articles when somebody dies. Why not doing something when it matters then most, when they are alive and when they need our support and attention as a society.

    Don’t take me wrong but “is khitte ki mitti mein koi masla hai warna itni naqadri ki nazeer shayed hi kahin aur mile”

  4. Salma says:
    April 28th, 2007 5:13 pm

    [quote comment="45463"]I wonder if there is an existing organization that can handle (with transparency) gathering and disbursing funds for indigent artists in Pakistan.[/quote]

    Yes SJH – That is a good question. Is there any such organiation in existence?

  5. April 29th, 2007 2:16 am

    Sometimes people like me do not realize how little some of our musicians and other artists make. Is it possible to find this out from a few people and do a post on them so we get a sense of reality? How little is TV paying them? How much do they earn in a private concert? Is there any way for state to support them? Or can there be some other way? Would GEO TV, or a music TV like MTV-Pakistan etc want to do a documentary on them?
    Maybe publish an annual list of “Mis-Fortune 500″ of Pakistani artists? COme to think of it, it owuld be great to have such lists published in all neglected sectors, including police etc.

  6. Shabbir Kazmi says:
    April 29th, 2007 9:20 pm

    Thank you for writing about Phathanay Khan Sahib, his music and his humanity still lives in my heart. He was an exceptional artist and a very decent man. Please let your readers know how help or start a foundation for Artists with awards and no means to survive.


  7. Babbi says:
    April 30th, 2007 1:40 am

    So sad, this has been going on for a long time: neglecting our folk artists.

    I must add one more name and that is Alan Faqir who also died in miserable conditions and there are lot more.

    Actually what I ve understood is that they were true artists and hail from rural areas so they always settle for less and since they only want to display there art to the people, they did not have that commercial thinking.

    One can easily imagine how the distributors, PTV and other marketing people made the money out of these humble people.

  8. MHS says:
    April 30th, 2007 1:59 am

    Pathana Khan’s mera ishq we tou is very inspiring. Even though I do not understand the language always, it si sung so nicely that it has a great impact on me everytime I hear it.

  9. zakoota says:
    April 30th, 2007 11:17 pm

    Its very sad indeed. Pathanay Khan was a great singer and so was Muhammad Jumman. May Allah SWT rest their souls in peace, Ameen.

  10. Owais Mughal says:
    May 1st, 2007 12:14 am

    Dawn reports on auction of Pathanay khan’s belongings by his son on Aug 14, 2007 infront of PTV Lahore:

  11. May 1st, 2007 5:31 pm

    my attempt at posting an image here:

  12. safdar says:
    May 26th, 2007 3:18 pm



  13. Tanassar says:
    August 8th, 2007 12:59 pm

    love and appreciate the voice and sympathy of pathanay khan with the sufi-ism………his voice has something magical…….it touches my heart and urges a storm in my mind………

  14. December 25th, 2007 6:18 am

    I just only say that Pathanay Khan was the best singer of Pakistan.

  15. Babur says:
    March 1st, 2008 10:59 am

    Fantastic singer. I have been listening to his music for 10 years. The only artist that has constatly in my car, ipod etc. I have just read that he had died pennyless and his family had been looking to sell his awards. How very sad.
    Any way to contact them or any one from his part of world who can provide more infromation.

  16. younis siraj says:
    May 13th, 2008 12:02 pm


  17. Roshan says:
    June 28th, 2008 10:34 pm

    Here is a good article on Pathanay Khan

  18. October 27th, 2008 3:31 am


  19. Sabir says:
    January 15th, 2009 1:55 am

    Pathanay Khan was a great singer .Fakhar-e-Sariki Music and Kafi

  20. January 25th, 2010 4:35 pm

    Very sad to hear that future of artists in Pakistan is extremely black. These artists get popular among people and have no other source of income except performance. They don’t even think of future as they are so inspired by their present. I have seen news very often about artists that they are in so terrible financial conditions that even its difficult to make both ends meet. I don’t know the solution yet for this but I would say awareness, people and Government should be aware of these artists and keep track of them.

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