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16 Aug

5 times Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan put Pakistan on the global stage

It has been 20 long years since Pakistan lost its powerhouse of music and soul, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. From his eternal vocals to his soulful qawwalis, there was nothing one could dislike in Nusrat’s repertoire and soon, those perfected skills made him a sensation not only in Pakistan but India and internationally as well.

Looking back at the maestro as an international icon, we explore some of the best work done by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on the global stage.


1. Peter Gabriel Collaborations

Collaborating with English singer-songwriter, Peter Gabriel, since the film The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988, the duo went on to work together on popular tracks up until the singer’s death on albums Mustt Mustt, Intoxicated Spirit and Night Song – the latter two being nominated for the Grammy’s as well.

2. Eddie Vedder and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Pairing up with Pearl Jam’s lead singer, Eddie Vedder, the two came up with the sheer brilliance that was Dead Man Walking’s soundtracks.

3. Bollywood Debut

Along with his stints in the west, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan lent his vocals to Bollywood in various films until his death. Whether it was ‘Koi Jaane Koi Na Jane’ for Aur Pyar Ho Gaya or ‘Dulhe Ka Sehra’ in Dillagi, the singer became the go-to choice for Bollywood filmmakers in the 90s.

However, apart from those who gave the singer the recognition he deserved, there were those who often stole his melodies – Dum Mast Qalandar and turning it to Tu Cheez Bari Hai Mast – and sold them as their own. However, like the superstar he was, he ended up creating more brilliant music internationally without a concern to others plagiarizing his work.

4. Nusrat as a composer

When the singer wasn’t signing for Bollywood, his compositions were sung by legends like Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar in various films. His famous composition for ‘Tere Bin Nahi Lagda,’ turned into a huge seller in India when it was used in Kachche Dhaage with Lata lending in her vocals.

5. Nusrat as the diplomatic icon

Apart from providing musical content to the world, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was undoubtedly Pakistan’s most powerful passport. From performing at the Nelson Mandela concert to spreading the message of peace throughout the globe, the singer showed a softer image of Pakistan when it was desperately needed.


Shahjehan Saleem

The author is Contributing Editor at Something Haute as well as a professor in the Media Sciences department at SZABIST, Karachi. Socio-cultural theories and geography fill up the rest of his time.