Lead vocalist for rock band Qayaas, Umair Jaswal is known for his power-packed live performances. Despite being the son of a renowned scientist and having studied geology, the talented artiste pursued his musical dream and quickly rose to fame. Lady Luck has been benevolent for Jaswal, for, the singer has recently been selected as Pakistan’s Youth Ambassador by the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC). The initiative includes providing education to internally displaced children from Waziristan and Kashmir.
In an interview with The Express Tribune, the 26-year-old singer talks about his reaction to the program. “Mixed emotions stirred up inside [me] as I heard the program officers brief me about the initiative. It was a touching moment,” says Jaswal.
The program aims to engage a young, enthusiastic and energetic music icon like Jaswal to campaign for education through concerts and other activities across Pakistan. With this project, a number of internally displaced children, from third grade up to high school, will be selected and enrolled in schools in Islamabad. A higher education scholarship has also been introduced as part of this initiative in Jaswal’s name. “Some of them [students] will also be sent to colleges abroad, depending on their scores under this scholarship,” highlights Jaswal.
He emphasises that education, food and shelter are basic rights and it is painful for him to witness the state of deprived and shelterless children. “Some have lost everything, even their parents,” he says. However, Jaswal adds that even in such turbulent times, our society has always stood united in helping victims through the biggest of disasters.
Jaswal will officially be awarded the title on November 1 by the IHRC World Chairman in Islamabad. “I do not think I was worthy of such an opportunity but now that I have committed, I will make sure I raise enough money through charity concerts. I will do as much as I can,” he asserts.
Dealing with misunderstandings
Jaswal came into the limelight with his band’s performance alongside Atif Aslam in Coke Studio season five. However, that resulted in a misunderstanding as viewers thought his name was Qayaas. Hence, the singer announced that he plans to perform solo in the current season. The song Khayal which is scheduled to launch this season on Coke Studio has already been featured in the recently released film Waar.
Explaining why this happened, Jaswal says he had written Khayal eight years ago but never found the right time to release it. “When I was approached by Coke Studio producer Rohail Hyatt last year, I felt that the time was right,” he says. But because of the unanticipated delay in the season, the song got released in Waar first. But Jaswal points out that the song has different versions.
Apart from Coke Studio, Jaswal has collaborated with renowned Sufi singer Abida Perveen on something he says is likely to create a stir in the near future. “We were in awe of Madam Abida Perveen when she came and performed at our studio. We didn’t realise how fast time passed. It was unreal and mesmerising,” he says. “Collaborating with her is an experience beyond words,” he added. The song is likely to launch by the end of this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2013.