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Basti Tambu Wali, Kot Addu, Punjab, British India
|Died||March 9, 2000
Kot Addu, Punjab, Pakistan
|Known for||Folk music|
|Awards||Pride of Performance|
Pathanay Khan (real name: Ghulam Muhammad; 1926–2000) was a great Seraiki folk singer from Pakistan. He sang mostly Kafis or Ghazals (in Seraiki), usually drawing on the Sufi poetry of Khwaja Ghulam Farid and Shah Hussain. He was born in 1926 in the village Basti Tambu Wali, situated in the heart of the Thal Desert, several miles from Kot Addu (Punjab).
Story behind the name
When he was only a few years old, his father brought his third wife home, so his mother decided to leave his father. She took her son along and went to Kot Addu to stay with her father. When the boy fell seriously ill, his mother took him to a syed's house. The syed's wife looked after him, and advised his mother to change his name because it seemed too heavy for him. Her daughter commented that he looked like Pathana (in that region, a name symbolising love and valour), and so from that day onwards he was known as Pathanay Khan. His mother credited the new name for saving the child's life.
Pathanay Khan was very attached to his mother. She took good care of him and tried to educate him. However, he, like his father Khameesa Khan, spent his time wandering, contemplating and singing. His nature lured him away from school after the seventh standard. He began singing, mostly the Kafis of Khwaja Ghulam Farid, the saint of Mithankot. His first teacher was Baba Mir Khan, who taught him everything he knew. Singing alone did not earn him enough, so the young Pathanay Khan started collecting firewood for his mother, who used to make bread for the villagers. This enabled the family to earn a very modest living. It is said that remembering those days brought tears to his eyes and he believed that it was his love for God, music, and Khwaja Farid that gave him strength to bear the burden. Pathanay Khan adopted singing as a profession in earnest after his mother's death. His singing had the capacity to bewitch his listeners, and he could sing for hours on end.
Pathanay Khan was totally devoted to Khwaja Farid. He gave his own deeper meaning to Khwaja Sahib's poetry through his typical style and spirit of singing. For example, Khwaja Farid's kafi "Piloo pakian ni vay" has been sung by Suraiya Multanikar, Hussain Bakhsh Dhadhi and many others. Suraiya Multanikar's composition presents it as a light folk song, while Hussain Bakhsh Dhadhi presents it as a classical piece decorated by his unique taans in the style of the Ashiq Ali Khan. However, Pathanay Khan's version of this kafi brings a deeper cosmic meaning to it.
In 1976, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan, invited him to Islamabad for a private performance. When Pathanay Khan sang "Jindrri Lutti tain yaar sajan, Kadi mor maharan tay wal a watan", Bhutto broke into tears. After the programme, the prime minister asked Pathanay Khan three times if he had any desire. Each time the singer’s reply was, "Bhutto Sahib, aap ko gharib awaam ki parat ho" (Bhutto Sahib, take care of the poor). At this, Bhutto hugged Pathanay Khan and said "I will surely take care of the poor".
- Pride of Performance Award in 1979.
Pathanay Khan died after a protracted illness at his native town of Kot Addu on Thursday March 9, 2000. His funeral was attended by a large number of people including poets, intellectuals, lawyers, educationalists and district officials. He was buried in his native graveyard in Kot Addu.