Pakistan embassy advances public diplomacy with mix of Sufi and fusion music

The Pakistani embassy here has aggressively been advancing a public diplomacy drive to engage both the diaspora and the official and policy community in Washington.

The idea behind this series of events is to bring Pakistan‘s many cultural commodities and strengths to the power capital where all embassies use diplomacy in all its forms.

Zeb and Haniya performing live at Coke Studio ...

Zeb and Haniya performing live at Coke Studio Sessions, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday evening, the embassy concert both entertained and engendered new conversations about Pakistan and the universal language of music, featuring popular singers Zeb and Haniya, who both rocked the capital with their eclectic repertoire of Pakistani Sufi and fusion music.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman made the argument that contrary to stereotypes, her country has much more to offer and has, in fact, emerged as the regional hub of Sufi music and boasts the largest number of pop fusion groups.

The Open Embassy Evening was attended by senior American officials from the State Dept. White House and members of think tank community   Democratic Congressman Dennis Kuccinich, a Democrat from Ohio, and a longtime advocate of end to unilateral actions like drones, attended the dinner, and was seen in close conversations with the Ambassador and Deputy Chief Mission, Asad Majeed.

Ambassador Sherry Rehman said that music and art were Pakistan’s newest exports to the region, and that culture was an important language that could bridge many divides, adding that soft and hard diplomacy are both needed to give nuance to the cultural and political identity of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s ambassador Sherry Rehman and US Congressman Dennis Kucinich Photo:MGCT

Citing the Pakistani youth’s achievements in the fields of arts, particularly music –both Eastern and Western – the ambassador told the gathering there are many untold stories of Pakistan, which is bursting with layers of creativity and innovations among its artists in many forms and genres.

“The Pakistan story is not just about bullets and bombs,” she said, in an apparent reference to international media’s overriding focus on the Afghan conflict, militancy challenges in the Pakistani tribal areas in almost complete disregard for what the Pakistani artists, artisans, scientists and scholars achieve in the many innovative and creative fields.l

“This is the new, resilient Pakistan – and we will strive to showcase, as part of our public diplomacy effort, the prodigious powerhouse of Pakistani culture and music.”

Singer and songwriter Zeb performing at the Pakistani embassy. Photo-MGCT

Zeb and Haniya, the two cousins, who hail from Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, treated the appreciative gathering to some of their popular numbers including Bibi Jan and several others in Urdu, Pashtu and Persian languages.

Their songs in Persian and Pashto languages, in addition to national Urdu language, reflect the diversity of music in Pakistan as they touched on some of the folk traditions and local Pashtoon culture on both sides of the Afghan border. On the other hand, the Pakistani vocalists’ ability and felicty to perform  in diverse languages bespeaks of the country’s increasing regional influences in creative fields.

Already, on the eastern side, Pakistani music mastro like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, in the footsteps of his legendary uncle Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and many classically trained and pop singers singing in Urdu and Punjab languages are among top influences and popular stars in India.

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Categories: Arts and Life

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