Best of '12: Memorable music of Pakistan

Published: December 29, 2012
Fortitude (top left), Abbas Ali Khan (top right), Humayun Khan (bottom left), and Ali Gul Pir (bottom right) all made our list of top Pakistani musical acts in 2012.

Fortitude (top left), Abbas Ali Khan (top right), Humayun Khan (bottom left), and Ali Gul Pir (bottom right) all made our list of top Pakistani musical acts in 2012.

What may come as a surprise to many is that the year 2012 belonged to young and talented musicians from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while the rest were either from Coke Studio or those who gained fame by uploading videos online.

It’s unfortunate that out of a total of 10 songs in our list, only two belong to bands — the rest are all solo artists. So cheers to them for saving our music industry!

Start with a Scratch by Sajid & Zeeshan

Start with a Scratch tops our list of best songs in 2012. The composition includes a remarkable assortment of instruments and the profound lyrics are just the cherry on top.

What other musicians need to learn from this powerful duo is that there is no peak when it comes to music — improving and growing as musicians and bringing something new to the game every time is imperative for survival. Sajid & Zeeshan’s growth can easily be seen since they made their debut with King of Self.

Rabba Sacheya by Atif Aslam


Atif Aslam is one musician that never ceases to impress, be it a heated debate on reality TV show Sur Kshetra or a homerun performance on Coke Studio. This year, he proved why he’s one of the biggest superstars in the subcontinent with his rendition of Rabba Sacheya on Coke Studio, a Punjabi poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

The number takes the listener on an eternal musical journey; Atif’s soulful voice brings depth to the lyrical content and makes the listener believe the conversation is as real as it could get with the Almighty.

Par Mein Hoon Ruka Sa by Abbas Ali Khan

Abbas Ali Khan made his listeners wait for his song full of soul and charm (uploaded the teaser a year ago but the full song was released recently). Khan’s single was a great replacement as mellow singers such as Ahmad Jahanzeb have pretty much disappeared from the music scene, and proved to be worth the wait.

Par Mein Hoon Ruka Sa also reveals that Khan has been working on his vocals; his voice blends well with the composition and makes the feel of the song even stronger. It is musicians like Khan who give this industry hope.

Anay De by Sibti


Muhammad Sibtain, better known as Sibti, released a track called Anay De earlier this year which was full of humour, wit and a rock sound. The number was a breath of fresh air for rock music lovers as someone finally came up with a pure desi rock tune — something which had been missing since the invasion of Bollywood beats. The sound is loud, catchy and above all hilarious, clearly depicting that this artist knows the art of songwriting.

If it weren’t for the YouTube ban, Anay De would have definitely gone viral.

Taroo Maroo by Ali Gul Pir

You might be wondering why we chose Ali Gul Pir’s Taroo Maroo instead of his epic track Waderai Ka Beta. The reason is simple — the sheer quality of this track, lyrics and music, made it an instant choice. The number is not just about funny lyrics but also contains a catchy rhythm. It’s a song everyone can enjoy and was made for all kinds of listeners — those who love music and for those who want to have a good laugh. Kudos to the Vital Saeen for coming up with something so refreshing.

Tora Bahram Khana by Humayun Khan

If there is any folk melody which revitalised Coke Studio (season 5) this year, it is Humayun Khan’s Tora Bahram Khana. This pop artist from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa managed to captivate the listeners with this rather difficult and off-beat number.

While he also sang Larsha Pekhawar Ta on the show, it was Tora Bahram Khana which takes the cake. It had a contemporary yet ethnic and earthy feel to it and we thank Coke Studio for bringing such a talented artist to the mainstream.

Koi Labda by Symt and Sanam Marvi


Koi Labda is hands down one of the most well-composed tracks season five of Coke Studio had to offer. Sanam Marvi and Symt’s vocalist Haroon Shahid, two singers of varying musical backgrounds, created magic on the stage with Rohail Hyatt’s slow yet upbeat number.

The song represents the purpose of Coke Studio: to gather talent nationwide and bring them together on one stage.

Awaam by Faris Shafi

Ali Gul Pir’s satirical track Waderai Ka Beta opened new doors not just for the listeners but also for other musicians. Following in his footsteps, Faris Shafi and Mooroo came up with a track called Awaam — another hilarious attempt at incorporating humour in music.

The song is a cleverly penned spoof addressing problems Pakistanis face on a daily basis: poverty, illiteracy, lack of law and order, unemployment, load shedding, etc. The lyrics are spot-on, the audio is of high quality and Mooroo’s rap takes this number to another level.

Za Pakhtoon Yam by Naseer and Shahab


Naseer Afridi and Shahab Qamar yet another duo which hails from Peshawar, the new hub of musical talent, surprised the audience with a slow yet progressive rock number, Za Pakhtoon Yam (I am a Pathan). Although, the two met online as Qamar is based in Australia and Afridi in Islamabad, the distance between was not a hindrance for their collaboration; their single became an instant hit on YouTube. This well-produced catchy tune, however, has another purpose in store for itself — to alter preconceived notions (pro-militancy and violence) about Pakhtuns.

No Borders by Fortitude

The rappers from Peshawar and Islamabad, who collectively call themselves Fortitude, provided the music scene with one of the most interesting rap songs we’ve heard so far. Their track called No Borders was not just a bunch of guys rapping in English and Pashto but also featured the band Alag who added a melodic feel to the song. It wasn’t just the excellent audio quality which left the audience impressed but also the attention-to-detail when it came to the visuals of the video.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • saad aziz
    Dec 30, 2012 - 12:10AM

    Zombie cover by Bakht arif is quite good and so is Daaru di bottle by East side story


  • Sheharyar
    Dec 30, 2012 - 8:44AM

    Adil Omar should definitely be in the list…


  • Zeux
    Dec 30, 2012 - 12:03PM

    How can you forget Sher Khan by Ahmed Siddiq. That’s an epic tune

    link text


  • Chay
    Dec 30, 2012 - 2:19PM

    Faris raps, not Mooroo. Perhaps a little research on your end before committing words to virtual paper is required. Or just pay attention. Also, it seems that Faris Shafi can rap circles around anyone else.


  • Pinto
    Dec 30, 2012 - 2:31PM

    Trash pak music


  • Pinto Basher
    Dec 30, 2012 - 3:32PM

    Low Life Pinto


  • Salman
    Dec 30, 2012 - 6:02PM

    Is rock dead in Pakistan?Why are there no more bands like Karavan ,Coven ,Call etc..


  • beenish azhar
    Dec 30, 2012 - 6:17PM

    I agree about zombie by bakht arif and daru di botle by east side story
    here are the links for those who’ve missed these
    Zombie Cover by Bakht Arif

    Daru Di Botle


  • beenish azhar
    Dec 30, 2012 - 6:19PM

    I agree about zombie by bakht arif and Daru di Botle…
    here are the links for both for those who’ve missed these videos
    Zombie Cover by Bakht arif
    Daru Di Botle by East Side Story


  • Die Hard
    Dec 30, 2012 - 6:46PM

    Where’s Poor Rich Boy?


  • Fahad
    Dec 30, 2012 - 6:49PM

    Rap Engineers? Their Platonic Intervention has been the best track in the history of Desi Hip Hop. Not taking anything away from all these in the list but there are a lot of people missing in the list specially Rap Engineers.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Dec 30, 2012 - 7:31PM

    Can you tell us what the criteria is of making this list? Bakwaas burger music.. Burger ET


  • sabhi idrees
    Dec 31, 2012 - 1:38AM

    Pakistani Rap means Fortitude for us now,happy because these boys deserved to be in the list and they are as expected. they’ve been amazing since the beginning but in 2012 they just climbed the charts as they were snatching a candy from a kid.Loved the No Border’s folk music and pashto rap.In addition their collaboration was just perfect.
    I can see bright future for pakistan music now.Sajid and zeeshan,Sanam marvi,Fortitude,Atif,Naseer and the list goes on,Pakistani talent is making revolution in music and feeling proud of it now


  • jenab
    Dec 31, 2012 - 2:28AM

    i agree with Pakistani, what really is the criteria for this list? seems like an ad-hoc mishmash of random tunes. ET really needs to get more informed people covering music.


  • Exasperated
    Jan 31, 2013 - 12:45PM

    No mention of Meesha Shafi’s “Dasht-e-Tanhai”???


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