The well-managed concert, sponsored by the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations, was put together by Salman Ahmad, founder of Pakistan’s famed rock group Junoon and a UN Goodwill Ambassador. Well-known international singers performed in the three-hour event in the gold-and-blue hall, which was packed-to-capacity. Their songs dealt with themes of peace, nonviolence and community spirit.
Leading the prayers for Pakistan was Samina Ahmad, Salman’s wife and the Master of Ceremonies. With her voice breaking with emotion, she spoke about the dire needs of the displaced people in Pakistan’s north-west and urged the people, who braved inclement weather to watch the “Concert for Pakistan”, to help them. In between the performances, some prominent figures like Nobel Laureate R.K. Pachauri and singer Sting, made fervent calls for unity to defeat the terrorists who kill innocent people. They called for helping Pakistan deal with the threat posed by al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists. The concert opened with Pakistan’s national anthem, which was played by the Salman-led Junoon band.
Slogans of “Pakistan Zinda bad” rang out in the spacious hall. Salman sang some of the Junoon’s popular Sufi numbers as people clapped, tapped and danced. The entire audience joined him when he sang the concert finale “Shahbaz Qalandar”.
Ever the usually restrained diplomats moved into aisles and danced with the beat. Demark’s award-winning hip-hop group “Outlandish”, which was led by Waqas Ali Qadri, a Dane of Pakistani origin, also drew huge applause. By all accounts, the concert was a huge success and helped promote Pakistan’s soft image. An elated Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, who was moving spirit behind the event, said that he was absolutely delighted that it was such a big success. “It’s a historic day for Pakistan,” he said.