Pakistani band Junoon rocks Srinagar with peace message

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Srinagar, May 25 (IANS) Trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir resonated with sounds of the guitar Sunday, as thousands here were held mesmerised by Pakistani rock band Junoon's eclectic fusion of Sufi music and western tunes.

"It is a 10-year tryst with destiny which has come true through our performance in Kashmir," said an ecstatic Salman Ahmad, the lead artiste of the band.

"I sincerely hope this 'Junoon' (passion) spreads the message of love and friendship in entire South Asia," he added.

"Kashmir is caught in Junoon fever today and I hope this fever continues to spread," Ahmad said, as his band enthralled the nearly 4,000 strong audience comprising mostly the local youth.

The concert was declared open on the lawns of the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex off the Dal Lake by Mani Shankar Aiyar, union minister for Panchayati Raj, who is also the chairman of the South Asian Federation's (SAF) Indian chapter.

The band sang numbers from their album "Sayoone" (Soulmate) to a receptive audience. Ahmad also sang a stanza from the band's famous album "Azadi".

As the concert progressed, the rock band changed to an even more feverish pitch with their famous lines "Dama Dam Mast Qalander".

Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, himself an ardent music lover and an amateur singer, looked visibly stirred as the concert moved from one composition to another.

SAF members Chandrika Kumaratunga, former president of Sri Lanka; Husna Bano, the Afghan minister of state for women's affairs; S. Makhdoom Rahim, Indian ambassador in Afghanistan; Madanjit Singh, Unesco goodwill ambassador; Abdul Waheed Khan, assistant director general of Unesco and a number of other SAF members from Maldives, Pakistan and Bangladesh were also among the audience.

The performance was one of the biggest musical event in the state that has been facing separatist violence for nearly two decades.

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