Of the many tragic losses that occurred today with the crash of flight PIA 661 from Chitral to Islamabad, the one that has affected the nation as a whole, is that of Junaid Jamshed. He was a household name for all generations; but, especially for those who grew up listening to his lyrics, many for whom, he embodied freedom from Zia’s Islamist Pakistan. Junaid Jamshed was an iconic figure for Pakistanis. From the jean wearing pop idol in the late 1980s to the muslim tele-evangelist by the turn of the century; he has mirrored the changing Pakistan over the decades.
Junaid’s last tweet was on Sunday 4 December, enjoying time with his friends and admiring Chitral, calling it “heaven on earth.”
Heaven on Earth Chitral.
With my friends in the Path of Allah . Snowpacked Tirchmir right behind us pic.twitter.com/ZajcWEKlrG
— Junaid Jamshed (@JunaidJamshedPK) December 4, 2016
When news of his death, that of his wife Nahya and those of forty others hit the channels, there was shock expressed all over the country. Salman Ahmad, a fellow Vital Signs member, tweeted on route to New York
— salman ahmad (@sufisal) December 7, 2016
Gutted by reports of JJ’s untimely demise. His voice expressed the emotions of a whole generation in the 1990s. RIP.
— NadeemFarooqParacha (@NadeemfParacha) December 7, 2016
— Huma A. Shah (@humaamirshah) December 7, 2016
— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) December 7, 2016
Junaid was the lead member of Vital Signs, the pop group, which first hit Pakistani screens in PTV in 1987, when they debuted with the song ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’. The song touched all so much so that it is now considered unofficial national anthem of Pakistan. He continued producing music and other popular songs included Tum Mil Gaye, Aitebaar and Who Kaun Thi.
However, by 2004 Junaid had left the pop scene and turned towards religion, now he became synonymous for wearing the traditional shalwar kameez dress and beard. It was during this period, that he also became a fashion designer and set up a very successful chain of shops called J. and told people that he considered music as haram. It seemed he later toned down this view as he performed naats and was heard singing Dil Dil Pakistan with friends. In 2014, he broke down in tears on Nadeem Malik’s show on Samaa TV, when singing a few lines from this song. In 2007, Jamshed also received the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Excellence) from President Musharraf.
He became controversial for his religious views when he appeared on TV and said women should not drive. However, later he himself became embroiled with religious groups for making inappropriate remarks about the Prophet Mohammad’s (SAW) wife. Although he apologized and explained he had not meant them, he had to spend several months outside Pakistan in fear for his life. However, when earlier this year when he was attacked at Islamabad airport, for those comments, he later tweeted that he forgave those men and
Let us all love n respect each other irrespective of our ideologies n make Pakistan a safe haven for everyone
— Junaid Jamshed (@JunaidJamshedPK) April 8, 2016
He leaves behind 2 wives and children and millions of fans who will remember him every time they hear his songs.