KARACHI: Iconic pop singer-turned-evangelist Junaid Jamshed and his wife had also boarded the PIA flight PK-661 after a 15-day sojourn in Chitral.
At the airport, he took pictures with the plane crew and other passengers and even shot a short video of the cockpit, which were shared on popular social media websites. Little did he know the flight he was boarding would never land at its destination.
“Junaid Jamshed had formed a Masturaat Jamaat [a preaching group of women and their spouses] from Tableeghi Markaz in Raiwind to travel to Chitral for 10 days,” Tariq Wani, a close associate of popular tableeghi preacher Maulana Tariq Jamil, told The Express Tribune.
“He was invited by [former cricketer] Saeed Anwar, who is still in Chitral for a 40-day preaching mission. While in Chitral, Junaid spent all of his time with Saeed and his Jamaat,” he said.
Junaid’s preaching group included three other couples, Wani said. All of them were killed in the crash.
Upon hearing reports of the crash, Junaid’s brother-in-law rushed to Abbottabad from Karachi. “I am in the Abbottabad hospital with relatives of all other crash victims. We are waiting for our turn to identify the mortal remains of our loved ones,” he told The Express Tribune.
News of Junaid’s death sent shock and grief across the country’s media industry. Tributes poured in on social media for the former lead singer of the country’s first major pop band, Vital Sings, whose popular ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ became an unofficial national anthem.
“I am in tears,” said singer Abrarul Haque. “We have not only lost a great musician but I personally have lost a very dear friend. Needless to say his loss is irreplaceable but only few can manage to get acceptance in front of the audience and Allah,” he added. “It’s tragic. I don’t want to talk about it right now,” said guitarist Asad Ahmed. “I’m too dazed to comment. Give me time.”
Guitarist Amir Zaki was similarly in shock. “I don’t know what to say. This is really sad. He was a friend of mine and we had a lot of memories together.”
“I’m still reeling from the news,” said singer Mohin Raza Khan, better known by his stage name ‘Bunny’. “People like Junaid laid the foundation of our music industry. I’m personally affected by the loss.”
Musician Emu of the band Fuzon said “I have muted all TV channels. I am getting dazed just by looking at his pictures being aired like fragments of a memory.”
“He was more than just a musician, he was an inspiration and so much more but right now I can’t express my feelings. I am in a state of shock,” Emu added.
Playback singer Shabnam Majeed remembered Junaid as ‘a legend in his own right’. “No one subscribing to any school of thought can take that away from him. No one had an audience like his. May God give us the strength to follow in his footsteps.”
Jamshed was embroiled in a blasphemy case in late 2014 after a video emerged in which he allegedly made inappropriate comments. However, Jamshed publicly apologised for his remarks and sought forgiveness, and the case did not proceed further.
The 52-year-old had kept a low profile ever since, and was last pictured with his friends in Chitral on December 4.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2016.