Pakistani sufi music enthralled the jam-packed UN General Assembly Hall, spreading the message of peace, tolerance and harmony, as Pakistan celebrated its National Day at the world stage for the first time.
The General Assembly Hall resounded with “Allah Hu” as Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, one of the world’s leading exponents of Sufi music, began his first song of the concert.
Introducing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to the Ambassadors and representatives of over 125 countries, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said, “The music you will hear tonight is the sound of the centuries old pulse of my country”.
UN Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Jan Eliasson was the Chief Guest and Under Secretary General, Christina Gallach was also a special guest who spoke at the start of the concert.
Speaking at the concert, SufiNight: Music of Peace, organized by the Pakistan Mission to UN, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that, the traditions of Sufism and its harmonious way of devotion to the Almighty, have been a fundamental source of the resilience and strength of the people of Pakistan.
For the first time, she said,Pakistan’s National Day was being celebrated in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly – the World's Parliament. “This hall represents the finest example of our shared humanity”, she added .
Conveying a message of hope for a bright future of Pakistan, Ambassador Lodhi said, “We are celebrating our National Day at a time when the resilience of Pakistan's people is being rewarded by greater peace and prosperity; when both democracy and security have been strengthened; when our economy is in robust recovery, and we are well set on our journey to a brighter future”.
The Pakistani envoy said that Ustad Rahat was also here with a message from the people of Pakistan to you, the people of the world: “we are one human family in this hall of the world’s people, and outside, and that the advancement of humanity rests on harmony, co-existence, mutual respect and above all universal brotherhood”.
Earlier, the Secretary General UN, Ban Ki-Moon expressed gratitude to Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi and the Mission of Pakistan for hosting the Sufi music concert saying, “What a wonderful way to celebrate Pakistan’s National Day!”,
He congratulated the people and Government of Pakistan on its National Day and to those present in the Hall he said in Urdu : Aap sub ko yo-may Pakistan mubarak ho!”
In a video message played at the event, the Secretary General said, “Tonight the halls of the General Assembly will resound with the Sufi message of oneness – a message of peace and compassion – of understanding and harmony”.
Appreciating the contribution of artists in spreading these values, he said, “Pakistani Sufi artists have long espoused these values which are so firmly rooted in Islam”.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan mesmerized the world community for around two hours by singing his popular tracks including “Allah hu”, “Jay tun Rab nun Manana”, “Tumhein Dil-Laghi”, “Chap Talak” and “Sanson ki Mala”.
His concluding song, “Mast Qalander” was the most appreciated song of the evening as a large of audience could not resist clapping and dancing to the music.
The concert was oversubscribed and attracted an audience from all walks of life and across all nationalities. It was largely attended by diplomats, UN officials, members of the civil society organizations, institutions of performing arts, international media and Pakistani diaspora.
By Tal Kopan, CNN
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