Profile: Junaid Jamshed, from vital signs to Islamic signs

Lahore: National icon Junaid Jamshed and his wife were among the 48 people aboard the PIA plane which crashed near Abbottabad today.

Born on September 3, 1964, the pop singer-turned-evangelist shot to stardom and became a household name in the 1980s as the front man of the celebrated Vital Signs.  The band delivered several chart-topping numbers, including the timeless classic Dil Dil Pakistan, dubbed the unofficial national anthem of Pakistan.

Other songs included Tum Mil GayeAitebaar and Who Kaun Thi. Vital Signs gained national and international acclaim, becoming the first Pakistani band to achieve commercial success.

In the late 90s, the band members went their separate ways, with Jamshed launching a solo career.

In 2004, Junaid’s life took a dramatic turn as he announced to quit his illustrious music career opting to focus on religion, and began preaching on TV. His appearance changed drastically, as he ditched leather jackets and stonewashed jeans for a more traditional ensemble and a beard. He went on to build a fashion empire, with a clothing boutique known as J., which has several outlets across Pakistan.

In 2007, Jamshed received the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Excellence) by the then president.Earlier this year, a mobile video was shared widely on social media, showing a charged crowd taking blows at Jamshed at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. The men were chanting slogans against the preacher, claiming he had committed blasphemy.

The televangelist later said on his official Twitter account: “It is about time we as a nation decide that we will not let these religious fanatics prevail amongst us. They will be exposed and brought to task.”

Jamshed was embroiled in a blasphemy case in late 2014 after a video emerged in which he allegedly made inappropriate comments. However, Jamshed publicly apologised for his remarks and sought forgiveness, and the case did not proceed further.

The 52-year-old had kept a low profile ever since, and was last pictured with his friends in Chitral on December 4.His name appeared among 48 others on a passenger manifest for Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) flight PK661, which crashed near the northern town of Havelian. His presence on board was confirmed by Sohail Ahmed, a PIA official in Chitral.

AlamulKhabar Pakistan