American rock band Junoon is doing its bit to promote world
peace by singing about the futility of conflicts in Iraq,
Jammu and Kashmir and the Middle East in their new album.
about conflicts in Junoon's yet-to-be-named album show the
trio's growing political activism. For the first time in their
10 years of being, Junoon (passion in Urdu), is performing
songs in English, in a bid to reach a global audience.
Junoon is battling
to keep its message of tolerance alive in an increasingly
polarised world, following the September 11 attacks. The group
includes one US-born Christian and two Pakistani Muslims,
who also sing in Urdu and Punjabi.
"I am constantly
forced to defend my belief in the average American against
the growing perception that the principles for which America
stands, are being compromised while defending Pakistan against
the image of fundamentalism," lead guitarist and lyricist
Salman Ahmad is quoted as having told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Junoon traces its
beginnings to a friendship between two music-loving teenagers
20 years ago; Ahmad and school pal Brian O'Connell in Tappan,
New York. At the time Ahmad's father, a pilot for Kuwait airlines,
was based in the US.
girlfriend, my first rock concert, the first time I picked
up a guitar, all these things happened in America," Ahmad
Ahmad later invited
Brian O'Connell to Pakistan to join him and a singer named
Ali Azmat in a "Sufi rock" band that mixed Western
rock with Eastern rhythms.
Since then, Junoon
has sold more than 20 million records worldwide and has gained
fans across political, social and cultural boundaries. The
band's works are a melodic blend of Sufi mysticism and modern-day
O'Connell, who says he is committed to bringing peoples and
cultures together through the blend of his music, was quoted
as saying, "Americans don't realise that our culture
is portrayed very differently outside US.
all CNN, but you can't blame people here for thinking that,
when that is their total exposure to America, just as you
can't blame Americans for thinking Pakistan is all turbans
and covered women. Our message of cultural exchange and understanding
has become more appropriate after September 11," Brian
After the September
attacks, Junoon raced to the US to do a series of shows at
universities and high schools. Last October, it was the only
Pakistani band to participate in a worldwide concert on Daniel
Pearl Music Day, to remember the US reporter who was murdered
in February 2002 in Karachi, Junoon's hometown.
Judea Pearl, Daniel's
father, called Ahmad to tell him that his son admired the