AFGHANISTAN – Kabul Dreams, as the band is named, is paving the way for a modest but growing local rock scene. “We want to show the world that Afghanistan has rock music, not only suicide bombings or attacks.”
Less than a decade ago, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, a concert like this would have landed them in jail. Under Taliban rule, playing musical instruments was banned. Singing was allowed, but only songs praising Allah or the Taliban.
Guitars strapped to their backs, three trim Afghan youths flash rock star smiles at armed guards who wave them through the steel doors of a private club. High walls and barbed wire protect the neatly trimmed garden inside from Kabul’s troubled streets. It’s here that the young trio, Afghanistan’s first indie rock band, is launching its debut album.
While the lyrics resonate with an Afghan youth weary of suicide bombings and Taliban attacks, running away is the last thing on the band’s mind.The trio returned to Afghanistan after temporary exile in Iran, Uzbekistan and Pakistan during Taliban rule.
‘Young people in Afghanistan like rock music a lot, and we’re providing them with something from their own country,’ bass player Siddique Ahmed says. The band rouses the crowd with another popular number, ‘Crack in the Radio,’ based on a girl who works in a Kabul rock radio station. It’s a song subject that would have been unthinkable under the Taliban.
With Taliban insurgents still holding sway in parts of the country, Kabul Dreams has had to cancel several performances because of security threats. The group sings in English, limiting its appeal at home, but the band says its choice of language will help spread its message to an international audience. In January, the group played at a regional music festival in New Delhi.
The band doesn’t perform widely, fearful of threats from religious conservatives. ‘We don’t want to be called Satanists,’ Saifulla says.
Rock music has made inroads since the fall of the Taliban. A smattering of music shops sell pirated CDs of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and other bands. Indian and Pakistani groups also are popular among the youth. UK DAILY MAIL