From adding rock to Allama Iqbal’s words to initiating his own NGO venture, rock artist Salman Ahmad has proved that he is an agent of change. Although his band Junoon, which started out with Ali Azmat, Brian O’ Connell and himself, has disbanded, Ahmad doesn’t hold any grudges against his ex-band members and wishes the best for them.
“It feels only like yesterday. Brian and I have reconnected and are going to India to perform. However, Ali decided to go ahead with a solo career and I wish him all the best.” The artist, however, continues on the ‘rock for a change’ journey all alone, performing gigs at local and international level as a one-man band.
The political side of Junoon
The musician, who was asked to perform at the peace rally of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, says that music is like a call of unity and he is blessed to have a gift that enables him to reach out to the masses. “There is an urgent need to unite the country across the spectrum. Nations are inspired through artists, poets and politicians and I intend to play a positive role for the stability of Pakistan.”
PTI’s driving force, Imran Khan, believed in Ahmad’s prowess to connect with the audience and before he knew, the musician was requested to be a part of the iconic peace rally. Ahmad, who is always eager to use his music to halt the growing dearth of unity and creative amongst youth, immediately took the offer. “I have known him for the past 25 years, before Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital was even founded. I toured Bangladesh under his captaincy in 1985,” the Sufi rocker recalls his first encounter with Khan.
Ahmad later collaborated with ace director Shoaib Mansoor to make a documentary called Leading from the Front. The project focused on Khan’s vigorous efforts to reach to the political fronts while battling his personal predicaments. “I believe three things of Imran Khan stand out: firstly, he never gives up, secondly, he is incorruptible and thirdly, he is a very fast learner,” adds Ahmad.
Music for a cause
Ahmad and his ex-bandmate Junaid Jamshed relived their past in a recent jam session, when an impromptu rehearsal and collaboration of “Jazba Junoon” and “Dil Dil” took place. According to Ahmad, music will now have a deeper cause than just providing mental solace. “Junaid Jamshed and I started music together with Vital Signs. He is a great Pakistani cultural icon and together we will be doing a lot more collaborations to unite the country.”
“For the UN World Humanitarian Day, I released “If I Could Change”, a track in collaboration with Ziggy Marley and Sweet Rush and we performed at United Nations General Assembly. I’m always going to be a part of this because I think social service is in my DNA.”
The musician talks about his and his wife’s humanitarian effort and aims to contribute to the general infrastructure of Pakistan with their small-scale projects. “Salman and Samina Global Wellness Initiative (SSGWI) is our family-run NGO looking to build villages in the district of Thatta, Sindh. This project is going to happen in January 2012.” Previously, in 2009, Ahmad and his wife Samina helped raise a considerable amount of funds for the homeless and distraught living in Swat.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2011.
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