WELCOME TO ASLAN MEDIA MUSIC!
Bringing you the latest sounds from the Mideast and its global Diaspora communities.
- Published on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 16:56
- Category: Artist Profile
How can a man with a guitar and a great hope for Pakistan unite Pakistanis all over the world? Salman Ahmad, founder of the famous Pakistani sufi rock band Junoon, is on the course to do just that. Ahmad has joined forces with his longtime friend, former cricketer and politician Imran Khan, whom he fondly refers to as the “Tsunami of Unity,” to bring a positive change to a “rock-bottom” Pakistan.
He does not support any political party or a particular political agenda. His intentions are clear: bringing the right leadership to Pakistan by spreading social awareness through the vehicle of music.
On December 25th 2011, Ahmad travelled back to Karachi from his native New York to perform at Khan’s historical peace rally. He has also been touring different cities in the U.S. to perform at fundraisers and rallies hosted by various chapter’s of Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice). On March 4, Ahmad performed at a sold-out PTI rally in Los Angeles. “The artist is a party of one,” he told the audience. Although he is not a politician, he considers his role is to uplift people with his music.
Ahmad spoke exclusively to Aslan Media and explained why he thinks Khan is the tsunami of change that Pakistan needs at this very moment.
Aslan Media: Much of your work has a strong political message. What sort of political message do you try to establish with your work?
Salman Ahmad: Right from the beginning, when I left medicine to take up music (I decided that) social service and social activism were always going to be a part of my life. And I believe that to change society, you change politics. The role of an artist, my role, is to raise awareness.
AM: How can your music reach out to the Pakistani people, reunite them and motivate them to make a sensible choice in the upcoming elections?
SA: One of the ways that can be done, (for example) on 25th December last year I went to Karachi. Imran has invited me to come and perform at the rally. I wasn’t really sure how songs would go over 300,000 people in the audience who’d have come for a political rally, but the fact was that the songs had such a profound positive event, combining all people, women, youth, men, you know? Music is the glue which unites Pakistan.
AM: What made you take part in Imran Khan’s peace rally in Karachi?
SA: Got a voice mail from him right after his rally in Lahore and he said there is a profound change taking place and you need to be a part of this. Obviously, I’ve known Imran Khan since the ‘80s and if he is inviting me then there has to be a reason behind it. Samina (Ahmed’s wife) and I flew to Karachi in December. Beyond my wildest expectations, I never thought that you’d have in Karachi such a peaceful rally. And the fact that it was Jinnah’s birth anniversary just made it even more poignant.
AM: How was it performing on stage in Karachi after such a long time? The crowd energy seemed to be great on TV.
SA: It was 3 times the size of the U2 concert at the Giants stadium. The feeling was electric. There was a wave of hope and expectation, which kind of is the parameter of what is happening in Pakistan right now. Despite it being rock bottom, young people, women, are coming forward. The fact that they are coming out to support Imran Khan shows that they have hope in the future.
AM: How does your own political viewpoint align with Imran Khan’s vision for Pakistan?
SA: As an artist, I have to be above politics, and I have to be not only sometimes a cheerleader but also a critic. But what I’ve seen of Imran Khan in the last 16 years that he has been in politics is that he has built things. He has continued to be positive, he has continued to be focus. He is not about making speeches. And I think Pakistan needs a dynamic charismatic leader. The country’s greatest asset is the human resource, 180 million people who needs leadership. This country, I believe, is in the most crucial decade. 2012-2022 is the most crucial decade in the history of Pakistan. All it needs is great leadership.
AM: What are your expectations from Imran Khan? How can he change the future of Pakistan?
SA: My expectations of Imran Khan is that he will bring in a better governance. Pakistan had incompetence and corruption right throughout the last 60+ years, and Imran Khan at the helm will bring in better governance, people who are elected on merit. Also, he’ll bring all of Pakistan together, not just one segment of the society.
AM: You believe that Imran Khan’s strength is his believe in people?
SA: Absolutely! He has got a track record with his charitable work and his cricket career. With both his Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and his 20-year career as a cricketer, he changed the culture. Prior to him coming into cricket, Pakistan had great talented players but didn’t win anything. There was infighting and division going on. He took the same bunch of people, made them into a fighting unit and went on to win the world cup. I think he’ll do the same once he comes into power.
To keep in touch with Ahmad’s day-to-day musings, follow him on Twitter at @sufisal.By Alnas Zia, Aslan Media Contributor