Junaid Jamshed

He captured the attention for Pakistanis as a young, charming musician, as a fashion entrepreneur and as a religious preacher but my association with Junaid Jamshed was through his music and that is how I will remember him. His voice represented an entire generation and served as a reminder of happier times for many in the next generation. With his loss, a certain part of that childhood and youth has gone away.

Aao, toh mat jao
Meray pass aao
Toh ruk jao

I was five. Aba got us our first personal audiocassettes. I got Junaid Jamshed’s album. My brother got Ali Haider’s. I don’t have to tell you which one was played in our car. On repeat.

Dil Dil Pakistan
Jaan Jaan Pakistan
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I was born in 1991 so I was sort of late to the Dil Dil Pakistan party. But can anyone really be late to the Dil Dil Pakistan party? I doubt. It is an anthem of a generation, the one before it, and the one after too. Every generation. All Pakistanis. Just like for so many other Pakistanis, the song became a part of my identity as I grew up. It was our unofficial national anthem. Imagine that kind of impact. Junaid Jamshed’s voice was there. Every 23rd March. Every 14th August. Every time Pakistan was playing a cricket match. Every single time you wanted to feel patriotic, to express your love for your homeland, to say that Pakistan was your dil and your jaan.

Milo toh sahi
Raasta koi
Mil he jaaye ga
Chalo toh sahi
Aitebaar bhe
Aa he jaaye ga

The song that provided – and will inevitably continue to provide – invaluable support to millions of people through their heartbreaks. The lyrics seem pretty bland when you read them but Junaid Jamshed made them evocative. His magical voice gave meaning to this almost-perfect expression of love, of a longing that every lover has for his or her beloved, of a human experience that is most natural and yet the most difficult to talk about.

Amn-o-muhabbat ke din de de
Hum ne hai lambi raat guzaari

This came out in the 90s and I always associated it with an image from the song’s video of Junaid Jamshed drenched in fake rain. But the song really hit home 2007 onwards as Pakistan spiraled into chaos and bloodshed. It, quite literally, became my dua. That’s Junaid Jamshed for you once again: adding a million layers of depth to words so simple you might think someone picked them straight from a 7th grader’s notebook.

Yeh shaam phir nahi aye gi
Iss shaam ko
Iss sath ko
Aao amr kar lain

This song actually preceded Aitebaar by about four years and even though these two songs were in the same vein, they still managed to hold their distinct places in the memory of every fan. You have liked someone in your life. You have wanted to say this to them. Life would be less complicated if only guys had the voice of Junaid Jamshed to woo girls.


Tum dur thay
Toh kya hua
Tum mil gaye
Toh kya hua

He did not just sing love songs. There was an equal amount of pain. But he was equally at home with a more negative, indifferent, and darker expression. This is the anthem of indifference. The perfect expression for whenever you feel the need to be with someone and not be with someone at the same time. So, what happened?

There were happier songs too: Mera Dil Nahi Available, Sanwali Saloni, Goray Rung Ka Zamana. These songs remind me of youthful exuberance, of times when you can be careless without any form of guilt, of recklessness so cool that you just want to cling on to it forever.

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How much of this impact was a result of circumstances? Vital Signs came out in Zia’s era; a time many Pakistanis want forget. But the band stands out in their memories even today. Junaid from that era stands on top of it all. Here is this young, good-looking, charming singer you want to sit in front of you and sing all day, every day.

Someone summarised this on Twitter: Vital Signs were our Beatles and he was our Lennon.

Mein apni awaz
Aur apnay saaray geet
Tumhein de jaun ga
Meri sub cheezon ko
Yun he rehnay dena
Jaisay shaam hotay he
Mein laut ke aaun ga

This came up on my playlist today. I froze for a moment when he sang this part. You have left us with your songs and the magic of your voice. But you aren’t returning this evening. Rest in peace, Junaid Jamshed.

Picture credits:
1) Junaid Jamshed’s solo pictures are screen grabs from music videos.
2) The group picture was published in Dawn.

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