ISLAMABAD - Softening their stern attitude against music and arts, the Taliban in North Waziristan have allowed opening of small music centres in Mirali Bazaar and adjoining villages. For the last couple of months, more than half a dozen music centres have been opened in Mirali city alone, while small bazaars in the surrounding villages are also witnessing the same trend, a source from the area shared with TheNation on the condition of anonymity. Initially, the music centres carried no signboards but now small boards suggesting availability of music stuff have been fixed in the front of the shops, the source added. The development, however, cant be seen as a shift in Talibans prejudice against music but apparently a relaxation has been given to the tribal people to bring them out of the years of distress, he said. No announcement has been made to this effect but it can be said that Taliban militants have closed their eyes over the development, he opined. All the more, people allegedly having connections with the Taliban are also paying frequent visits to these shops to buy stuff of their choice, which suggests that the militants are well aware of the existence of such shops but are showing unresponsiveness to the phenomenon, the source further informed. He also confided that Taliban supporters could be seen buying cassettes and CDs of famous Pushto songs to draw out some patterns for Naats. It is pertinent to mention here that most of Pushto Naats are usually versed after popular Pushto songs. And what is more astonishing is that the said shops are also selling contraband drugs including opium and hashish, the source disclosed. The source added that as many as four music shops have been opened in Qutab Khan Market of Mirali city while other such shops could be seen in the central square of the city. Moreover, other towns of the Mirali tehsil including Khisokhel, Edeck and Hurmuz too are not behind Mirali city in daring to house a 'banned business. For the last one week, this correspondent had been trying to talk to the owners of the said shops but they refused and also prevented the source to take a snapshot, as they feared that media coverage could cost them their businesses...and even their lives. The tribal people love to perform a traditional dance called 'Athanr on hot music, especially composed for the purpose, and there used to be no exception to elderly people who also have the same love for their traditional dance and music. But unfortunately, the arts of music and singing have been something that the Taliban militants loved to destroy at their earliest whenever they gained some influence in some area. It is why reopening of music shops, though covertly, has become a matter of utter surprise for the people of the area.