Exporting Sufi music

Express July 20, 2010
Exporting Sufi music

In an e-mail interview with The Express Tribune, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations Abdullah Hussain Haroon talks about the theme of the concerts, which take place in New York over the next few weeks. The musicians - who have been picked from all provinces - represent Sufi tradition in its true spirit.

What is the theme of the sufi concert?

The theme of the sufi concert is based upon a gift of brotherhood, peace and love from the people of Pakistan to the people of New York and the United States. The concept has emerged after the failed Times Square bombing where there was a concern by the Pakistani community and a strong condemnation of what happened. The Pakistan Mission to the United Nations wanted to reflect the real face of Pakistan, which is of tolerance, peace and brotherhood, and decided to exhibit this through a strong display of music of the sufis as a gift to the city of New York.

After the attempt by Faisal Shahzad to bomb Times Square, there has been a revived interest in how urban Pakistanis are ‘converted’ to militancy. Can efforts such as the concert help change perceptions of young Pakistanis - especially since there are artists such as Zeb and Haniya on the bill - in the US?

While we are quite sure that we cannot change in this one expression the perception of some young Pakistanis regarding militancy, people’s interest will be aroused and the trend towards normalcy may accelerate. That itself would be a valuable contribution.

What kind of support does the event have from organisations in New York?

We would primarily like to thank the United Nations, the Roosevelt Hotel, American Pakistan Foundation, specifically Asia Society and the Rubin Museum of Arts. We are also grateful to Mayor Bloomberg of New York and various municipal groupings. Community based human rights cultural organisations are also involved in spreading the message.

What is the expected attendance for the event?

We expect several thousands of people to attend the Union Square event. At the United Nations event at the Roosevelt we expect over 500 to attend, at the Rubin Museum over 200 and at the Asia Society we expect approximately 300 people.

Are there any more efforts such as the concert being planned to promote Pakistani music and culture in the US this year?

This is in fact the first event of its kind which is being held now and we hope there would be more in future.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2010.


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