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Now That Dard Is No More, Who Will Sing Sohni, Sassi For Punjab?

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LAHORE: Prominent Punjabi folk singer Ustad Talib Hussain Dard passed away on March 17 (Sunday), depriving thousands of his fans in central and southern Punjab from his melodious high-pitched voice.

He was 66 and died of paralysis at a local hospital of Faisalabad. Among vocalists like Ataullah Khan Esakhelvi, Mansor Malangi and Allah Ditta Lonay Wala whose singing is popular in central and southern Punjab, Dard was undoubtedly oldest and equally admired.

A large number of people attended Ustad’s funeral prayer in his hometown Khanowana, a village west of Jhang, a district of Punjab.

His son Imran Talib, who is also a singer, told Naya Daur that Dard’s singing career spanned over 50 long years but he had never received official recognition for his musical services. He said he had not received any condolence message from government side on his father’s death.

Federal and Punjab information ministries, arts councils, Punjabi Institute of Language and Culture, Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television have issued no word on demise of legendry Punjabi folk singer. Geo TV reported the death and ran a two-minute introductory package on him.

Dard had started singing at age of 15 in 1967 and rose to fame in late 80s when his voice started echoing in Jhang, Sargodha, Chiniot, Mandi Bahauddin, Hafizabad, Khushab, Bhakar, Layyah, Mianwali, Khanewal, Vehari and other districts of Punjab. He sang more than 20,000 songs, dhoras (a four-liner genre of local poetry) and mahiyas (a couplet) and his singing volumes sold in thousands.

As central and southern Punjab produced many big names in Jhangochi and Sariaki poetry, including Ghulam Muhammad Dard, Hayat Bhatti, Altaf Tafu Bharwana, Riaz Hussain Sial, Malik Ghulam Yasin, Shahid Mehmood Aqib, Shah Muhammad Danish, Abid Tamimi, Imdadullah Taqveem, Riaz Kaifi, Mian Mustaf, Mazhar Bokhari, Abdur Rehman Sehrai, Nasir Taib, Rab Nawaz Hashmi, Samar Bharwana and Latif Shedai (majority of them born in Jhang), Dard gave his melodious voice to their poetic masterpieces. Thousands listened to him, when he would sing dohra on harmonium and table duet.

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A year ago, in his interview with a daily English (The Nation), he had said that

He learnt folk singing from legendary Ustad Nazar Hussain Dhokri and classical from Ustad Salamat Ali Khan. He also shared that he had established a music academy in Jhang few years ago but could not run it due to lack of resources.

He complained that his services in folk singing had never been officially acknowledged yet he was happy for what the people had given him in shape of love and respect.

The sectarian violence and radicalization during Ziaul Haq regime in Jhang – the centre place of Dard’s singing – could not stop the folk singer from spreading the message of love and peace through his music. But now when he is no more in this world and Zia’s legacy can be seen everywhere, one fears who will sing Sohni Mahiwal and Sassi Punnu for the people of Punjab.

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