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'Music can bring India, Pakistan closer'

It's time to put more music into the India-Pakistan relations - this is the message of famous Pakistani

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 18:34 IST

It's time to put more music into the India-Pakistan relations - this is the message of famous Pakistani singer Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who is here to spread love, peace and brotherhood through his hauntingly beautiful songs of mystical longings.

Borders dissolve and souls vibrate with the power of love when Khan sings rapturous songs of communion with the divine.

"Music transcends borders. We should keep love between people of India and Pakistan going," Khan, nephew of the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who put sufi music on the world map, told mediapersons here ahead of his concert tonight.

"Music is a powerful medium. We shouldn't think of what separates us, but what unites us," said the 32-year-old maestro who firmly believes that culture and music can build stronger bridges between the people of India and Pakistan.

"We don't want "jang" (war). Music engenders peace," said Khan, whose family comes from Jalandhar in Indian Punjab.

The concert, organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Indian Women's Press Corps, comes at a time when India and Pakistan are trying to push the peace process to resolve contentious issues between them.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will be the chief guest at the concert, to be held at Siri Fort Auditorium, and is expected to speak about the importance of music and cultural exchanges in bringing the peoples of the two countries together.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni will also attend Khan's concert as guests of honour.

"Distances have lessened and people have become closer. Indian artists and singers are admired and feted in Pakistan," said Khan, an exponent of Hindustani Khayal Gayaki and a maestro of the qawwali.

Khan is elated at the thought of performing in India as he has a vast following here, thanks to some of his chart-busting numbers for Bollywood films like "Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaye" in Kalyug.

"I have got more love in India than in Pakistan. I feel more happy singing here than anywhere in the world because people here understand the qawalli and sufi music," he said.

Introducing Khan as "an extremely popular artiste on both sides of the border," ICCR Director General Pavan K. Varma described him "the inheritor of a grand tradition" and underlined the importance of cultural connections between the two countries.

"What unites us is a common heritage and culture. We were both born in the same crucible of history," said Varma.

Many Pakistani iconic singers like Farida Khanum, Amjad Sabri and Shafqat Ali Khan have performed in India in the last few months.