Artists waiting for promised stipend in KP


Photo story Tittle: Artists waiting for promised stipend in KP

Promises are certainly made however some of them are forgotten or their fulfillment is delayed.

During the last tenure of PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, then Minister for Culture made a promise with the artist community about a monthly stipend in 2015 in order to facilitate them. The Directorate of Culture Khyber Pakhtunkhwa fixed pension of 30,000 per month for artists. In their first phase 500 artist were benefited from this scheme. In 2015, 500 out of 3000 artists received this stipend.

In May, 2018 the second phase of this project was initiated and again 500 artists were selected for this monthly stipend. This time two months’ stipends of Rs 60000 each were given to the artist community but seven months stipend is still pending, said Director Culture Department of KP Shahbaz.

The criteria for selection was that artists belonging to television, radio, performing art, writers, poets, visual arts and singers having 15 years of experience were eligible for this monthly stipend. Around three thousand artists applied for it but only 500 were selected after scrutiny.

Khalid Khattak, famous TV actor, said, “I have been in the showbiz for 27 years. I have won a national award, and represented my province in this field,’’ In the second phase of payment for two-month stipend, some artists were selected and given money but then the government stopped for reasons better known to the rulers.

Arshad Hussain, another artist from Mardan, started his career back in 1990 as an actor from Peshawar Television Center. He performed in several drama serials in Pashto and Urdu, and won regional and national awards for the best actor in past.

He has worked as a stage and tv host, film maker, theater director, feature film actor, documentary maker and event manager. In 2014, his son Wadan Khan, survived in Army Public School’s massacre. In 2015, Arshad was diagnosed with cancer but it could not stop him from work. He, despite being under treatment for cancer, continued his work as he is the only one to earn bread and butter for his entire family.

Arshad Hussain said that his name is also in the list of those who are supposed to receive government’s pension. “This was a good step by the the government for the artists of our society who are no more able to earn due to old age.”

He said, “It’s true there is a delay in payments as we did not get any money since last few months. The government should look into it and release the payments for all artist community who have been selected in that process.”

Arshad says that he cannot survive without the government’s financial assistance since he is suffering cancer.

DG of Culture Department said, “The delay in pensions is not because of the government but rather caused by the artists’ personal grudges.’’ He said that in the second round of the stipend distribution, 500 out of 3000 were selected. Some of the unselected candidates filed a petition in Peshawar High Court that issued a stay order and stopped the government from paying off the stipends till further order.

He said that the court ordered that the artists should take an oath if they are proven ineligible, they would be bound to return those pensions.

Another renowned and senior actress, Noshaba said, “They just played with the sentiments of the artist community of KP as many senior artists spent their whole life in the showbiz world. These stipends were for the welfare of the artist community. We got the second phase stipends of only two months and since then it has been stopped. We have not gotten the last seven months stipends.” She further said that the government should not make such promises that could not be fulfilled.

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