ISLAMABAD: With traditional music from Gilgit-Baltistan filling the cool Islamabad air, the notes were at odds with the setting of Australian flags all around.
But that was precisely the message which the Australian High Commission wished to convey, the cultural diversity that the country had to offer as it celebrated the Australia Day in Spring 2017.
The colourful, cultural evening at the Australian High Commission late on Tuesday evening showcased a musical performance which highlighted the shared and diverse cultural heritage of the two countries.
As an example of their cultural activities, Pakistani-Australian singer and songwriter Mahmood Khan performed.
Having flown from Australia especially for the celebrations, he joined students from the Leif Larsen Music Centre playing traditional Burushashki music on traditional instruments from the region including the Rabab and Sitar.
Originally hailing from Lahore, Mahmood had topped the Australian music charts in 2009 with the single ‘Like the River’ which he had recorded live at the Sydney Opera House.
An accomplished musician, Mahmood’s claim to fame also includes recording with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Noting that the theme for this year’s Australia Day in Spring was celebrating cultural diversity, High Commissioner Margaret Adamson said that it provided an opportunity to reflect on the cultural diversity of both Australia and Pakistan.
“Australia is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse nations in the world, where a migrant arrives to start a new life every 89 seconds,” Adamson said.
“Almost 400 different languages, including indigenous languages, are spoken collectively by Australia’s 24 million people, and an estimated 75 per cent of Australia’s population identify with an ancestry other than Australian,” she added.
Noting that there were strong people-to-people and diplomatic links between the two countries, she said that over 55,000 people of Pakistani origin are currently living and working in Australia.
“These people-to-people links and a shared diversity of culture strengthen the Australia-Pakistan relationship.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2017.