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HomeWorldPakistani Pop Star Turned Preacher Junaid Jamshed Was Among Plane Crash Victims

Pakistani Pop Star Turned Preacher Junaid Jamshed Was Among Plane Crash Victims

Among the victims of a plane crash that killed 48 people Wednesday night was Junaid Jamshed, a pioneering Pakistani pop star turned religious preacher.

Mr. Jamshed’s two careers, and the mourning that followed his death, reflected two conflicting sides of Pakistani society, commentators said.

While some of his fans remembered him as a musician others lauded his most recent evangelical persona.

The Pakistan International Airlines domestic flight he was traveling on Wednesday crashed with no survivors as it made its way from Chitral in the north west to the capital Islamabad. Authorities said Thursday that the bodies were so badly burned and disfigured that DNA tests would be necessary to identify most of them, meaning that relatives will have to wait a week before claiming their bodies.

“Junaid Jamshed’s journey was so quintessentially Pakistani. Conflicted, passionate, devoted, ubersmart, and so, so talented. Tragic loss,” newspaper columnist Mosharraf Zaidi wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Jamshed, who was aged 52, was the lead singer in Pakistan’s first full-throttle pop outfit, Vital Signs, a clean-cut boy band that made kitsch videos and toured Pakistan and the world, a sensation from their start in the late 1980s. Their “Dil Dil Pakistan,” among many hits, became an alternative national anthem.

Later in life, he denounced music as un-Islamic, leading many mourners to plead that his songs not to be played on television or put on social media as tributes.

“Dear Media, Junaid Jamshed left the world while spreading Islam not music kindly don’t act immature just for the sake of ratings,” said Twitter [email protected]__haroon.

Others disagreed: “Kids from 90′s will only remember Junaid Jamshed as a singer and an inspiration that shaped Vital Signs fans lives. Deal with it molvis [religious clerics],” Tweeted @KaisOrk.

Mr. Jamshed turned to religion in the 2000s, giving up his lucrative career and pop-star lifestyle. He joined the Tablighi Jamaat, an evangelical Sunni Muslim group and grew a long beard. He also started a designer traditional clothing business, which has stores all over Pakistan under the Jamshed Junaid brand. He was returning from a preaching mission in Chitral when he died.

Despite his religiosity, in 2014, Mr. Jamshed was accused of blasphemy by some Islamist groups, who accused him of insulting Prophet Muhammad’s wife Ayesha in one of his sermons. Mr. Jamshed apologized for his statement. 

He didn’t give up music entirely. He released albums of traditional religious recitations and devotional singing.

“He had done the whole pop star thing. I think he was then looking for more meaning to life, that’s how he was attracted to the spiritual path,” said Haroon, a friend and fellow singer from the band Awaz who goes by only one name.

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(via WSJ)