Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi

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Attaullah Khan Niazi
Attaullah Khan Esakhailvi.JPG
Background information
Birth nameAttaullah Khan Esakhelvi Niazi
Born (1951-08-19) 19 August 1951 (age 70)
Mianwali, Punjab, Pakistan
OriginPunjab, Pakistan
Occupation(s) [poet]
Years active1971 – present

Attaullah Khan Niazi (Punjabi: عطااللہ خان نیازی) (born 19 August 1951), known professionally as Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi also known as Lala (meaning "elder brother" in Pashto and Punjabi), is a Pakistani musician from Isakhelevi, Mianwali, Punjab.[1] He is considered as one of the most formidable Classical Folk Singers to have emerged from South Asia.[by whom?]

The Government of Pakistan awarded him the Sitara-e-Imtiaz on 23 March 2019[2] and he also got the Pride of Performance Award in 1991.

In 2011 he appeared in Coke Studio (season 4) and sang 3 songs Ni Oothaan Waale, and Pyaar Naal. In September 2017 he appeared in Coke Studio (season 10) second time and sang Sab Maya with his traditional loving sound.

Early life[edit]

Esakhelvi was born in Esa Kheil, Mianwali, Punjab Province, Pakistan as Attaullah Khan Niazi. Niazi is a populous Pashtun tribe based in north-west Punjab province of Pakistan and eastern regions of Afghanistan. Attaullah developed an interest in music as a child, but music was strictly forbidden in his home.[3][4] Despite the restriction on music in his home, Attaullah secretly sought to learn more about music.[3] His school teacher taught him Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh songs and told him never to stop singing. Attaullah tried to explain his passion for music to his parents and convince them to let him sing, but they forbade him to continue singing.[3] Disillusioned, Attaullah left home when he was 18 years old.[3] He traveled extensively within Pakistan and supported himself by working from Mianwali. He is most popular in rural areas of Pakistan and some other countries in world.

Musical career[edit]

Esakhelvi continued his training after leaving his parents' home and often recorded himself on cassette tapes that he later distributed.[3]

In 1972, Esakhelvi was invited to perform on Radio Pakistan, Bahawalpur. That same year, he performed in a concert in Mianwali.[5] Esakhelvi performed on the television show Neelam Ghar in 1973.

He was invited by a company in Faisalabad to record folk songs in their studio, and recorded four albums in one recording session.[3] The albums were released at the end of 1977 and became national bestsellers.[3]

In 1980, Esakhelvi performed in the United Kingdom for the first time. It was also his first concert abroad. His albums were eventually released in UK under various labels, including Hi-tech, OSA and Moviebox.

He has performed Na`at and Kalaam of famous Sufi poets, such as Mian Muhammad Bakhsh's Saiful Maluk and Bulleh Shah's Keey Bay Dardan Sang Yaree.He also sang song of Sadiq (a famous saraiki poet).

Attaullah Khan visited India during 2014. The Times of India wrote: "A Sufi concert, Ibaadat, organized in association with Navbharat Times, was recently held at Purana Quila in the capital. Pakistani folk singer Attaullah Khan performed for the first time in Delhi at this event. Khan sang his Achha Sila Diya Tune Mere Pyaar Ka, and other Pakistani Sufi hits for the audience. The concert was organized by the AAS group, an NGO which works to spread awareness about cervical cancer among women and ways to prevent it, and this concert was organized to spread that message."[6]

Personal life[edit]

Attaullah Khan is from district Mianwali and his hometown is Esakhel. He received his early education from Esakhel. He is traditionally considered a Saraiki artist.

Attaullah relocated to Lahore after becoming a professional musician performing in Saraiki, Urdu and English. He has been married four times and has four children. His daughter Laraib Atta is a professional VFX artist who has worked for several Hollywood films.[7][8] His son Sanwal Esakhelvi is also pursuing a career in music,[9] while yet another son, Bilawal, is an actor and director based in London,[10] apart from also being a musician.[11]


He is considered a folk icon in his home country and considered one of the most popular singers in its history. The constant companion of Pakistani truck drivers is the lilting tunes of Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi. This Mianwali-born vocalist with his swashbuckler moustache, kameez shalwar and shawl on one shoulder became the poster boy for traditional Pakistani music.[9]

Singing in Saraiki, that dominates western and southern Punjab, his searing impassioned songs caught on like wildfire almost from the moment he recorded his first session for Radio Pakistan Bahawalpur in the mid 1970s. For years, Esakhelvi reigned supreme and unchallenged, in a universe that existed parallel to the cultured music salons of the elite.[12]

The Government of Pakistan awarded him the Pride of Performance Award in 1991. He was also awarded Sitara e Imtiaz on 23 March 2019.[13]

He has recorded more than 50,000 songs in seven languages.[9] He has received a lifetime achievement award from Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, and had his name entered in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1994 for the highest number of audio albums released.[14]


Year Album Artist Music director Label
1978 ادھر زندگی کا جنازہ اٹھے گا Attaullah Khan رحمت گراموفون ہاوس]]
1992 Bedardi Se Pyar Attaullah Khan T-Series


Attaullah has his own band which travels with him. Members of the band include:

The musicians in Attaullah's band have performed with him since the 1970s, in Pakistan, United States of America, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, India, Italy, Australia, Oman, New Zealand, Hong Kong and UAE.


  1. ^ "Atta Ullah Eesakhelvi and the Cassette Revolution". Pakistaniat. 22 November 2008. Archived from the original on 25 April 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  2. ^ (23 March 2019). "President Alvi confers top civil, military awards for excellence on Pakistan Day". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "The Coke Studio Journey continues with Episode 3!". Ink Magazine. 22 June 2011. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi - Biography, Career, Songs List, Legacy". Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  5. ^ Abdullah, Rana. "Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi – A Pakistani Legend life History". The News Track. Archived from the original on 10 July 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Pakistani folk singer Attaullah Khan performed during a Sufi concert at Purana Quila in Delhi - Times of India".
  7. ^ "I hope to work on projects in Pakistan, says Hollywood VFX artist Laraib Atta". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Pakistani visual effects prodigy making waves in Hollywood". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  9. ^ a b c "Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi on what makes him the common man's artist - The Express Tribune". 6 April 2016.
  10. ^ Spotlight (23 April 2018), "I feel the pressure every time I look at the keyboard or the harmonium: Sanwal Esakhelvi", HumTV. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  11. ^ Bilawal Atta's profile on Star Now
  12. ^ Rabe, Nate (5 April 2015). "Between hair salons and Coke Studio, Pakistani singer Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi conquers all". Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  13. ^ Pak Watan (4 April 2019), Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi Pakistani singer Awarded Sitara e Imtiaz on 23 March 2019 | Pak Watan, retrieved 4 April 2019
  14. ^ "Guinness world record holder Attaullah Esakhelvi turns 65".