The relationship between the US and Pakistan is back on track. Musically speaking, that is.
Washington and Islamabad may have traded accusations and veiled threats recently, but a series of joint concerts here by an American jazz band and a Pakistani soft-rock group demonstrated that in nonpolitical spheres the two countries can have a productive and at times - does one dare say it? - harmonious relationship.
For the past two weeks, the New York-based Ari Roland Jazz Quartet and Pakistan's popular band Fuzon have performed together in the country's major cities, seducing appreciative audiences and drawing rave reviews from local newspapers. The two outfits also collaborated on a "Friendship Song," whose lyrics mention neither Pakistan nor the United States but seem nonetheless pertinent to the current situation.
"Let's forget all indignations and traverse all distances between us," goes a line of the Urdu-language song.
Of late US-Pakistani relationship went from bad to worse; reaching a new low last month.
Syed Azfer Iqbal, who works on cultural exchange programs at the US embassy here, said the music tour was not specifically designed to soothe frayed tempers, as it was planned more than a year ago. "It's a coincidence," he said. "But I believe it's very timely."
The Ari Roland Jazz Quartet has visited more than 35 countries in tours often sponsored by embassies or the US State Department. This is the band's second tour of Pakistan.
"The thing about the music in Pakistan is that the beat is very similar to jazz," double bass player Ari Roland said. "It's like a cousin to us."
Asked what he thought of US policies in Pakistan, Shahzaib Khan, a 25-year-old student, said they were "a bit strict. He was unconvinced by the friendship song, but said he enjoyed his first jazz concert. "They should arrange this again and again," he said. "So many people want this to happen."
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