Pashto singer Mahjabeen Qazalbash fights for her life as family seeks financial help

Mahjabeen Qazalbash, who is a staple in Pashto music, is in critical condition as she undergoes treatment at Lady Reading Hospital

Mahjabeen Qazalbash, who is a staple in Pashto music, is in critical condition as she undergoes treatment at Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawer. The singer was admitted earlier this week after suffering from a cardiac arrest. She is being tended to by her only son Shahid Ali Orakzai according to whom the family is going through immense financial duress.

“Her treatment isn’t the only expense I am worried about.God forbid! if something happens to her (Qazalbash), I will not be able to perform her last rituals. She has a huge number of her followers and I don’t have means to make arrangements for a funeral proceeding,” Orakzai told The Express Tribune.

The unfortunate son talked about how despite living through hard times in the past, the family has never sought financial assistance from anyone. “Now we need it because I want my mother back home. Apart from a few who helped me out, the government, which gave her many awards, needs to come forward” Orkzai said.
The son of the presidential award winner Qazalbash, deemed it the government’s responsibility to assist the family in this matter. “What benefit does these [awards] give us—not more than just a worthless pile of decor,” he lamented. “For how long will my relatives and friends support? The government which once felt proud of her should rescue us” Orkzai said. He added that aside from taking care of his mother he has also been looking his sister all the while living with a diabetic condition himself.

The queen of Pashto music was born in 1958 in Kucha Risaldar to an Irani born Pakistani national, who had migrated from Iran to Qandaharand finally settling in Peshawar. Her original name could not be confirmed despite different attempts. Many believe her actual name is Surayya Khanum, while others contradict by saying that it is in fact Zubaida Khanum.

Qazalbash started singing national songs when she was 13-years old at Forward High School in Peshawer. Noticing Qazalbash’s interest in singing, her father introduced to Radio Pakistan where she started her professional career.

Her song Spini Spogmay Waya Ashna ba charta zeena (O shining Moon, tell me where will my love will go) became her claim to fame. Following this her career soared to new heights as she acquired a global fan base. In the span of her career, the 62-year old Pashto singer has performed in Afghanistan, Germany, England, Middle East and the United States.

She has performed ghazals written by Hamza Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak, Sahir Afridi and duets with different legendary singers including Khyal Mohammad. While mainly known as a Pashto singer, Qazalbash has sang in a variety of other languages as well including Persian, Turkish, Hindko and Saraiki . In total she is known for delivering more than a thousand songs.

Apart from music, Qazalbash also had a brief stint in the world of cinema as well. She starred as a leading lady in Pashto films Sher Alam and Sherani. She tied the nuptial knot with Aimal Khan, a Pashto film star from Orakzai tribal region of K-P.