The Pakistan jail where prisoners learn classical music

Prison authorities have started an arts programme for the rehabilitation of inmates

Hazar Khan Baloch
Wednesday 23 February 2022 16:41 GMT
Rehabilitation through classical music in Quetta

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Louise Thomas

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This article first appeared in our partner site, Independent Urdu

There is a wall decorated with etchings of musical notes and musicians playing drums, guitar and the harmonium.

Next to the wall, sit a music teacher and his students. Drums, harmonium, and melodious voices singing classical tunes can all be heard. These are not scenes from a music club but a room in the central jail of Quetta where prisoners learn music and other arts.

The administration of the jail has initiated a programme of lessons for the rehabilitation of prisoners at the special instruction of the jail’s inspector general.

Azizullah is one of the young men learning music. He was imprisoned after being convicted of theft. Speaking to Independent Urdu, he said that when he first entered the jail he was full of anxiety. The caretaker of the prison asked him about his interests and when he learned that Azizullah had nothing to occupy him, he informed him about the music classes and invited him to attend them.

Azizullah said he was worried about his future but feels better after starting his music lessons.

“I came here to learn something and to do something new every day. And there is a teacher who instructs us in music,” he said.

He added that the teacher encouraged him in his studies. He has also learned the twelve ‘raags’ [classical Indian melodies] and singing.

Azizullah has now resolved to master this art so that he can make a name for himself in it. He not only plays the harmonium but also sings. He said that after his release he intends to study music and will also try to teach others.

Prior to this scheme, there was no arrangement for teaching music or other arts in Quetta Jail.

Prison officials say the activities are aimed at reforming inmates and inspiring them not to repeat the offences for which they are serving sentences. Music lessons are conducted daily in the jail and the teacher is himself a prisoner.

Reviewed and proofread by Tooba Ali and Celine Assaf

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