Three decades of friendship with Aamir Zaki, Pakistan's unsung guitar hero

The writer recalls the rise and fall of Pakistan's greatest guitarist as he quietly battled depression
Updated 02 Jun, 2018

This article was originally published on June 3, 2017

It was 1987.

Fresh out of college in Karachi, I was planning to get into Karachi University (KU) as a student of political science. Much of my four years at college were spent as an activist against a reactionary dictatorship. Even though I had been arrested twice and once even tortured, I planed to continue my stint as a student leader at KU.

In July 1987 a car bomb had gone off in Karachi's congested Empress Market area, killing dozens of shopkeepers and shoppers. It was a sickening sight; an event directly related to Pakistan's involvement in the Afghan Civil War; an involvement I had been protesting against since my first year in college in 1984.

In August 1987, a college acquaintance, Ozzie, a Pakistani-Christian, fan of George Micheal and himself a pretty decent crooner, gave me a cassette of a song recorded by a Pakistani band called The Scratch. Ozzie knew that unlike him, I was more into raunchier music.

"You will like this," he told me. "And check out the guitar player."

There were not many Pakistani bands around in those days. Men such as Alamgir and Muhammad Ali Sheikhi were stars, carefully navigating through the many restrictions imposed on music which was considered to be 'obscene' and 'decadent' by the dictatorship.

Nazia and Zoheb were on top as well, dishing out albums which were brilliantly produced fusions of classic disco, funk and Pakistani 'filmi' music. The duo had been banned by the dictatorship in 1982. The ban was lifted in 1983 when, during a meeting, Nazia and Zoheb convinced Zia that their music was not against his so-called 'Islamisation' policies.

The urban middle-classes had expanded during the Zia years 1977-88). By the mid and late 1980s, bands had begun to emerge playing covers of contemporary pop hits and heavier rock songs at college events, weddings and private parties.

When I played Ozzie's tape on my Sony Walkman II in August 1987, the Vital Signs had already released their first song 'Dil, Dil Pakistan' and Ali Azmat was about to form The Jupiters. But at the time I had no clue who they were.

The song on Ozzie's tape was titled, 'The Bomb.' It was written and recorded by Scratch just a day after the Empress Market blast. Extremely bluesy and melancholic, what got my immediate attention was the guitar sound. Very Eric Clapton, I thought. Or even Mark Knophler. Clean, loose and very bluesy. I wondered, who on Earth was playing the guitar like that in Pakistan. The vocals were by a woman, but the lyrics were terrible.



A KU friend arrived at my house with tickets to a concert at the Intercontinental Hotel (now Pearl Continental). Three bands were to play at this concert near the pool side area of the hotel: Vital Signs, The Scratch and one other band. The Signs were yet to release their first album. But I recognised the name, 'Scratch'. So I decided to go.

We smoked a bit and reached the venue which was teeming with teens and 20-year-olds like me. The Signs did not show up. Nor did that other band. But The Scratch did. A guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a female vocalist in a floral maxi.

Amir Zaki in 'The Scratch.' Picture courtesy: TR
Amir Zaki in 'The Scratch.' Picture courtesy: TR

They played six songs. All 1980s pop covers. The last one was 'Walk Like An Egyptian' by The Bangles. The band did a decent rendition of it, until the guitarist went entirely ballistic during the outro of the song. Switching between long blues leads, raunchy riffs and even some heavy metal stuff, a time came when the rest of his band members just couldn't keep up and simply stopped playing. The guitarist turned around and pressed his guitar over an amplifier to produce loud feedback sound that must have pierced through and across every room in the hotel. It was nuts. I loved it.

I got hold of him after the show. He was quietly packing up his gear: an amp and a yellow and white Fender Stretocaster. The rest of the band was on the other side of the hallway. I told him he was brilliant. He was surprised. I introduced myself and he did too. His name was Aamir Zaki. And the next evening I was at his place in Karachi's PECHS area.

In 1988 Zaki's bedroom featured posters of Eric Clapton. Zaki also played the bass, and that too a fretless one preferred by dexterous jazz-fusionists.

In his bedroom were posters of Eric Clapton. He was in love with him, especially with Clapton's '461 Ocean Boulevard' album. Zaki also played the bass, and that too a fretless one preferred by dexterous jazz-fusionists.

We talked about the blues, jazz, prog-rock and the works, until we came to 'The Bomb.' I told him the lyrics were crap. He agreed and then asked me to write new ones. So I did, right there. He loved them. He picked up an acoustic guitar and set those lyrics to a new version of the song. Right there. Thus began my friendship with this most talented and (as we shall see), also most frustrating musician.



I had joined journalism in December 1990. I worked as a political and then a crime reporter for a weekly till late 1992. Then quite accidentally, I became a music critic.

The pop scene in the country had exploded after the demise of Zia in August 1988. Though things did not get any better as far violence and corruption go, and where crime was concerned, the music scene continued to expand, also helped by the fact that certain multinationals began pumping in money into emerging pop acts.

I befriended almost all the new stars. But it was always a musician-critic relationship between us, which blew hot and cold. I always thought they were opportunistic and ungrateful and they believed I was 'unpredictable' and thought of myself as much of a star as they were. I did. I was.

But my friendship with Zaki was different. We were actually friends. With the music scene expanding, I wanted Zaki to be its leading star. As a teenager, he had already played with the 'greats', such as Alamgir.

By 1993, Zaki had gotten so much better, so flawless, so waiting to just burst out and become the scene's most accomplished player. But he didn't.

I asked him to assemble a band and jump on the great Pakistani pop bandwagon which had begun to roll into town. "No musician can keep up with what I want to do, and how I want to play," he lamented. He wasn't being arrogant. He was right.

"What the hell do you want me to play?" He asked one April evening in 1993. I had told him to stop being this brilliant, misunderstood and reclusive sessions player for bygone pop dinosaurs and mediocre jingle-singers. I asked him to assemble a band and jump on the great Pakistani pop bandwagon which had begun to roll into town.

"No musician can keep up with what I want to do, and how I want to play," he lamented. He wasn't being arrogant. He was right. He was just too goddamn good. Nevertheless, he finally agreed to form a band. He had quit Scratch in 1988. He had spent all his time honing his talents and playing the odd show with Alamgir.

But now a lucky pop musician could actually make some good money through his/her art in Pakistan. So, in 1993, he not only formed a band but also got married. The band was made up of a drummer, a bassist (both Pakistani-Christians), and, of course, Zaki. He asked for a name and I gave him one: Just In Case. It stuck.

Amir Zaki in Just in Case. Picture courtesy: S. Baloch
Amir Zaki in Just in Case. Picture courtesy: S. Baloch

Zaki was very close to musicians from Karachi's Goan Christian community. These men and women had fallen on hard times after nightclubs where they had played in the 1960s and 1970s closed down in April 1977. Zaki's love for jazz and classical blues music came from his endearing relationship with Goan Christian musicians. Some of them even played at his wedding at the Intercontinental.

Just in Case failed to take off. As did his marriage. He had married a highly intelligent daughter of a famous playwright and theatre and TV director. It didn't work out. Zaki was too moody, too sulky, too critical of people he actually cared the most about. He was also self-critical.

I told him he whined too much. He lashed out and responded by telling me that I was hanging out with the "mediocres" too much. The stars.

He vanished for the next few months until he called again in November 1994.

He told me he had formed another version of Just In Case. It had a guy, I think he was called Benny, on bass, and a real powerhouse drummer whose name I can't recall. Zaki picked me up from my house and we drove down to the drummer's house.

The band jammed non-stop for over three hours. I recorded the session on a tape-recorder. It was intense. The sound was like Rush making out with Cream and then both flirting with Miles Davis. It was awesome, complex, epic. And I told him so. But he complained that the bassist was not able to keep up and the drummer was continuously trying to overshadow the guitar. Uh-oh.

So this edition of Just in Case fell apart as well. Zaki vanished again.



After months of silence, I got a call again.

"NFP, how about coffee?"

"Sure," I said.

"No, light yourself a cigarette, in fact fix yourself a drink. You will need it after I tell you what I want to tell you." He was super excited.

I began to laugh: "Don't tell me you are getting married again."

"No, no," he replied. "Something even stranger!"

That something 'stranger' was an offer by the Signs to join the band. The Signs, at the time the land's biggest pop act, had ousted their second guitarist, Rizwan-ul-Haq. They now wanted Zaki to be in the group because the Signs' leader, Rohail Hayyat, wanted to expand the band's sound and have a 'more accomplished guitarist.'

Amir Zaki with The Signs. Picture courtesy:
Amir Zaki with The Signs. Picture courtesy:

Zaki asked me whether he should join the Signs. I told him, absolutely. But the truth was, he had already made up his mind. He was going to join and finally taste the pleasures of the mainstream scene.

I called Rohail and told him that getting Zaki in the band was a master stroke, even though I quite liked Rizwan as well. I thought his subtle, melodic style of playing was perfect for the Signs. But Rohail wanted to do something deeper and more complex on the next Signs album. "A mixture of vintage Eagles and Fleetwood Mac," he told me.




Before and after he joined the Signs, I heard Zaki play on numerous occasions. But I tell you, the way he played with the Signs on the dozen or so concerts that the band played in 1994, was the best I have seen him play. His black Gibson added such a refreshing dimension to all the great Signs songs, making them richer, edgier. Those concerts were such a pleasure to watch.

But this was just too good to last. Actually, I knew it could not. At the time, the Signs were going through their own existential crisis, and here was this volatile and moody guitar genius sandwiched between an equally moody (but far more practical) Rohail and a vocalist (Junaid Jamshed) who was not agreeing with Rohail's idea of 'making a more complex album.'

Also, Zaki wanted equal share of the profits and royalties. Rohail refused.

I knew what was transpiring. Rohail requested me not to put it in print because the band was in the process of making an album and was still on Pepsi's payroll.

Zaki drove down to my house and we shared a cigarette on a sidewalk.

He seemed calm. Not angry at all. With the Signs, for a bit, he had experienced the rush of the mainstream scene. He had enjoyed it and wanted more of it, but on his own terms. "Zaki, you should be a star," I reminded him.

Zaki then decided to storm the mainstream all by himself. A few weeks after leaving the Signs, he played me the demo tape he had recorded for his first solo album. On it he played the guitar, bass, keyboards and used a drum-machine. Heck, he even sang.

Unable to find the kind of musicians who he believed could 'keep up with him', Zaki decided to storm the mainstream all by himself. A few weeks after leaving the Signs, he played me the demo tape he had recorded for his first solo album. On it he played the guitar, bass, keyboards and used a drum-machine. Heck, he even sang.

I loved the songs and the instrumentals. They were driven, and one song, 'Mera Pyar' was right up there with the most melodic stuff the Signs had done. I asked him who the song was about and he told me, 'someone who doesn't exist and never will.'

In mid-1995, he released his first album, 'Signature.' I wasn't all that impressed by the final product. He had smoothened it too much. 'Mera Pyar' still sounded good, but the rest, though technically perfect, was overproduced.

The cover of 'Signature.'
The cover of 'Signature.'

"This sounds like elevator music played in a dishwasher," I jokingly told him. "You should have let the sound leak and bleed through the speakers. And where the heck is the feedback? This is just too clean."

He was livid. And as expected out came the 'mediocre' taunt: "NFP, you have been promoting and listening to the mediocres too much." The stars.

I responded by saying that he hadn't used even half of the magic and tricks he possessed as a musician. "This is repressed stuff, man."

He did not respond. And vanished.

However, thanks to the heavy play the video of 'Mera Pyar' enjoyed on local pop shows, the album did rather well, bagging him a dedicated cult following.



By the late 1990s, the music scene had begun to recede. Falling sales and diminishing multinational interest saw the exit of numerous bands and acts. Many even began to move towards more 'spiritual' callings, joining the Islamic evangelical outfits which had begun to mushroom from the mid-1990s onwards.

I'd had enough as well, suffering from years of substance abuse and those exhausting pretensions of helping to herald in some kind of a cultural revolution through music. My relationship with the eroding music scene collapsed, but I did continue to meet Zaki.

He seemed disgusted by the scene. It was not authentic, he rightly pointed out. Then he packed his bags and moved to the US.



A mutual friend, TR, kept me informed about Zaki's stay in the US. He was earning a living by playing in blues and jazz bars. TR told me that there he had finally found the musicians he could relate to (and vice versa). But not for long.

I received a call. It was Zaki. "NFP, kya ho raha hai?"

"You are back," I said.


"Now what?" I asked.



We met for coffee. I told him I'd cleaned up, gotten married and quit music journalism.

"Those mediocres never deserved the attention you gave them," he said. "Perhaps," I said. "But you should have been a star."

He suddenly went quiet and began to stare at a wall behind us.

"I have to go." Saying this, he just left.

I didn't meet him or hear from him for the next four years.



I received a call on my cell phone. I couldn't recognise the number. I answered and it was him.

"NFP, what's up?" "Zak?" "Yes. Where have you vanished?" "Are you the only person allowed to vanish?" He began to laugh: "I'm recording again." "That's nice, Zak, but I have no clue about the local music scene anymore." "I know. I know you quit writing. I quit making music. Too much mediocrity here." "Yes," I replied.

We met that evening and he played me a tape of the songs he had recorded with Hadiqa Kayani. Hadiqa was always a terrific singer. But those songs, they were terrible. Muddy, confused, half-baked. But I remained quiet.

"You didn't like them?" He guessed. "Zak, this just doesn't work for me." He wasn't angry. He just snickered: "Well, I like them."

That was the last time I met him. I moved back into journalism (but away from music). There was no music scene to write about anyway. The country was was being ripped apart by extremist violence and terrorism. Zaki never made another album. He became a music tutor and would on occasion play small gigs here and there. The concert scene had eroded as well.



Zaki appeared on Coke Studio to play guitar on a song by Zohaib Hassan. I was delighted.

Two days later, I received a call on my cell phone. It was TR. He told me Zaki was in the hospital. What happened?

Amir Zaki with Zoe Viccaji. Picture courtesy: Aania Shah
Amir Zaki with Zoe Viccaji. Picture courtesy: Aania Shah

It turned out, Zaki had been unwell. I knew he was mentally fragile and extremely moody, but now TR was telling me he had needed professional help.

Zaki returned from his latest stint in an institution and it was on that day TR called me again to tell me Zaki wanted to speak to me.

"Hey, NFP", came a tired voice on my phone.

"Oye, Zak, what have you been doing to yourself?"

"Come over and I'll tell you," he replied.

"You should have become a star, Zak. You should have let the sound leak and bleed. You should have let it all out. You had so much magic. It is this magic in you which is rebelling," I said.

"Hmm." Came a tired response. "Come over. We will have coffee. Talk."



We never did have that talk. I don't know why. Life went on until I saw that headline on 'Aamir Zaki passes away at 49.'

The irony of it all is that I was in New Orleans at the time of his passing - the birthplace of jazz and the blues.

The two greatest loves of his largely unrequited life.


ali.akram Jun 03, 2017 11:24am
Iqbal Jun 03, 2017 11:31am
RIP Amir Zaki. Good Piece NFP. Today, after the Friday prayers at my local mosque in Chicago, I heard someone announce that their friend Amir Zaki had passed away in Pakistan. It was at that time I went to Dawn, and saw that one of the stars whose music I loved in the 90s had passed away. -"meri awaaz sun lay na meri geethon mein tum, wo alfaaz chun lay na jo ho jathay hain gum"
Pernia Jun 03, 2017 11:43am
"The irony of it all is that I was in New Orleans at the time of his passing - the birthplace of jazz and the blues". RIP one of my favourite non-conformist!
Disgruntled Jun 03, 2017 12:02pm
I do hope zak found what he was looking for and and pray that his soul rests in peace. NFP! To be honest, if it wasn't for your devoted promotion of him while writing for MAG, he would have just fizzled out into obscurity. From that sense you probably were his biggest fan and seems remain to this day.
Owais Jun 03, 2017 12:30pm
Thanks for sharing this NFP.
Salman Jun 03, 2017 12:42pm
Nice article.
FARJEe Jun 03, 2017 12:48pm
You just made me cry NFP. It was a beautiful writing on a unfortunate creative musician who made my tean years full of joy and spirit. Rest in peace and all the best NFP for writing in years to come.
Ahmed Jun 03, 2017 12:52pm
Thank you nfp for chronicling the journy of a prodigious talent. Rip zak
ga Jun 03, 2017 01:04pm
I began listening to him recently on Coke Studio. Especially the part in Zoheb Hassan's song where someone from India commented about how seamlessly he put down the accoustic guitar and picked up the electric one to play. Brilliant. I hadn't noticed that prior to reading the comment. RIP.
aHMED Jun 03, 2017 01:16pm
Sad !!
SHAHZ Jun 03, 2017 01:26pm
Once again a sad end , I hope you find peace now!
Zx Jun 03, 2017 01:47pm
Thanks for sharing. I agree with you, he should have been a star and everybody should have experienced his magic. Quiet ironic that he picked "Just in Case"
AfsHan Jun 03, 2017 02:14pm
Beautifully written. And very sad
Azhar Jun 03, 2017 03:06pm
You have reminded me about my college days when I use to listen such a beautiful guitarist. Read entire article with tears in my eyes.
JS Jun 03, 2017 03:30pm
May the stars shine bright for AZ and lo! Light upon light, And dear soul, Rest in peace and perfect harmony.
charlie Jun 03, 2017 03:32pm
I heard he died alone. Laid alone in the Edhi morgue. He didnt have money to pay his rental even. Why weren't you with him physically or morally supporting him in his hay days? For me, MAJOR part of teen is totally gone - forever. First J. and now Zaki. Sadness another level!
MAss3r Jun 03, 2017 03:56pm
NFP whenever you write about those gone by days of 80's and 90's you bring to life those magical days when as teenagers our greatest crush was on musicians like Aamir Zaki. The fact of him being a non commercial and non conformist musician, made him all the more appealing. It is sad, the way things have changed. I can so very well relate to the depression he may have faced, it is the depression of this age that has lost its vitality and creativity. May Aamir Zaki find a peaceful place in Heaven. Aameen
Amir Jun 03, 2017 04:15pm
What a lovely tribute and send off
hassan Jun 03, 2017 04:17pm
Wow such a moving piece.
Da Jun 03, 2017 05:29pm
Nicely written as always by NFP
sibtain Jun 03, 2017 05:32pm
gave me chills !
asif Jun 03, 2017 05:37pm
I used see Zaki on daily basis as he was my neighbour. Always with his guitar and bike. Many a times had an opportunity to sit near him sipping tea in a dahbha. He was always very quiet and humble. We lost another great after JJ. Lost another good person.
Ismail Jun 03, 2017 05:41pm
I usually enjoy NFP's psychedelic chronologies. Today was different. For a so-called friend I expected a much more charitable piece. To read this one would come away thinking Aamir Zaki was a failure. That he did not achieve the Olympian heights conceived of in NFP's mind is more telling of NFP's regrets than any shortcoming of Aamir Zaki. Certain things stand out. His continual identifying of the religion of certain friends struck me as odd. Speaking of his relationship with the Pakistani music scene he admits to his own inflated ego, ..." thought of myself as much of a star as they were. I did. I was." At each point in his storyline he keeps wanting something different from Zaki, without keeping in mind the reality check of the South Asian musical sensibility, which is awash with sentimental melodies, and the need for a paycheck. We will miss the music though we knew little about the man. NFP should have done a better, and kinder, job of fulfilling that gap. Rest In Peace Aamir Zaki.
fayed Jun 03, 2017 06:06pm
I worked and knew zaki. There can not be a more honest article about zaki. Everything NFP has said is true mirror of zaki. Rip zak
Ammar yasser Jun 03, 2017 06:06pm
Some times life keeps you move, people say you moving, but you know you dragging. Time makes you "caused stopped" people say you vanished, but you want to move... but system makes you stopped. And then Zaki passes away. I really want to teach a bitter lesson to system.
naeem Jun 03, 2017 06:55pm
Why is it we are only losing the good by one , everybody from our early years have left us prematurely...those that ought to go are alive and making this world a miserable place. If death is indeed by chance how is it that its only targeting the loved and cherished ones.
Princess_of_DHUMP Jun 03, 2017 07:02pm
You should have met him when he asked you to in 2015
Rashid Jun 03, 2017 07:02pm
NFP thanks for sharing the light on the life of a "crazy diamond" that I only knew recently from the news paper.
babaji Jun 03, 2017 07:35pm
I was there when he played with the signs in 1993 at UH in houston, tx ..... i still remember feeling disbelief at first at the quality & sharpness of his performance , and then thoroughly enjoying the evening under the influence of his unrelenting jam session, song after song. rest in peace o'brother , you'll be missed !
Sana Jun 03, 2017 08:35pm
Ufffff bari takleef hoi parh kay. What a talent got wasted only because it was a "misfit". What a sad sad state, what a terrible loss. Aamir Zaki, you will be missed for generations to come. May you find the eternal peace that you've been craving all your life. Rest in peace you gem!
CURIOUS MIND Jun 03, 2017 08:48pm
R.I.P Zaki, May your soul found the peace you couldn't find while alive. The best Guitarist produced by Pak.
aman Jun 03, 2017 09:05pm
We lost a gem. Inspirational guitar player and extremely misunderstood by the people here. He was ahead of his time.
Aisha Jun 03, 2017 10:53pm
Wish he was given that much coverage when he was alive, really I have completely forgot about him until the death took him away..
MUDASSir hussain azeemabadi Jun 04, 2017 12:03am
Not being thankless but the charm of this world is rapidly diminishing.
Sami Jun 04, 2017 12:16am
So long my friend, Zaki, you will always be remembered as enlightening us with quality sounds in our lives. I am devastated to hear about him. Heros (including Marhoom Junaid and Amjad Sabri Qawwal and even Junoon/ Najam Sheeraz & Asad Ahmed to name the few) from my youth who led the rest of the youth to choose guitars over guns (Karachiites). NFP thanks for bringing him out from the hole. How the news treated you about the loss of your friend, is beyond imagination.
Maarif sohail Jun 04, 2017 12:30am
Beautifully done. Just for the record since its so articulate, Jupiters was there before 1987 and quite an established band before Ali Azmat joined it.
Daman Jun 04, 2017 12:53am
Well written. I connect so well with how you write, like I was there at that time. "Shine on you crazy diamond..." .
Naveed jami Jun 04, 2017 01:37am
Wonderful material. I am in my car waiting to kill the time to pick up my son and I had a great time reading about ZAK. I moved out of Pakistan in 1989 so I lost touch with me music scene in Pakistan. I am gonna search for his work on YouTube. I hope I find something.
Qazi tauq ahmed Jun 04, 2017 01:45am
I am sad to hear that Country's one of the finest guitarists and singer Aamir Zaki passed away. He was such a talented guy. I cannot forget the winter evening of 2005 when he performed at NCR Pakistan IT award funtion. Zaki was the only artist invited for the evening. He played just his guitar for more than two hours in front of top dignitaries of IT industry. None if them even moved for a second from their seats. Unbelievable! RIP Amir Zaki. You will be missed!!
M. Shahid Yousuf Jun 04, 2017 03:58am
It would have been nice if we had a hyperlink to a video of Aamir Zaki. That way we could listen immediately. Yes we probably can find a clip on YouTube.
Atif Jun 04, 2017 05:55am
Thank you NFP for sharing these memory. Amir zaki, a legend, RIP
global citizen Jun 04, 2017 07:53am
rip old friend, while my guitar gently weeps!
Arifa Jun 04, 2017 08:10am
Very underrated musician. Another genius denied because he didn't fit the mould shaped by people with money. RIP.
Tayyaba Jun 04, 2017 08:49am
Beautifully penned :)
Nukhbat Malik Jun 04, 2017 10:18am
Though I disagree with a few things in this article it was a good read... the irony hurts!
ABG Jimmy Jun 04, 2017 11:21am
Lost another great, i guess we have to keep mourning for our legends, and get used to it. I was so happy to see him playing at coke studio recently, and thought he might come back, but it never really happened. I talked to him couple times through facebook, but then he stopped using that too. You NFP reminded me of alot of good times and my fondness towards Amir Zakis music. I must still have some of his cassettes somewhere in my old stuff back home. Good bye AZ, you certainly rocked. May you find peace.
Ghouri Jun 04, 2017 01:29pm
Probably the worst month of my life. Lost some closed ones and a few other things, and now Zaki. RIP Sir, you will always have a place in my heart alongside others who have once been a part of my soul.
white noise Jun 04, 2017 02:22pm
those of us who grew up in 90s and had some sense of music knew how under rated / neglected he was during those years. his playing style was way ahead of anyone at the time, yet mainstream totally ignored him. he was never chasing fame, always down to earth, if he was a western guy, he would be up there with the best, cause west knows how to respect someone with the talent like Zaki. RIP Sir, you will be sorely missed. its a double whammy losing Cornell and Zaki in matter of weeks.
Dr Accountant Jun 04, 2017 02:28pm
What a great write-up. NFP your pieces are so riveting !! Growing up in the 90s in KPK the then NWFP my father never really encouraged us listening to pop music. One evening on the telly Aamir Zaki was playing the guitar, and my father popped into the room, I was about to change the channel as my father had walked in, my father asked 'my God who is this guy?' I said that's Aamir Zaki and my father went 'that's how you play the guitar' !! I was rather young so didn't really appreciate it but later on I realized how great a guitar player Aamir Zaki was. Alas there's no appreciation for this sort of talent in Pakistan !!
rehan Jun 04, 2017 04:51pm
Very nice article, however it seems like the author was very judgmental about zak's work and personality. Although he was reminding Zak that he is a star from time to time but didn't truely accepted and believe his skills. For e.g he called the best instrumental album of Pakistan... elevator music played in a dishwasher, On other occasion says heck he sang. So, I can see how the author himself is the biggest star in the world. However, i am sure he know nothing about chords and playing music as Zak. In a nutshell Pak does not deserve brilliant, creative and progressive musician, who dont want to repeat what has already been done. Zak was like researcher or a music professor who was constantly trying to understand music and constantly improving.... having no acknowledgements and constantly drilled by the society... he was always battling with life....
Haidér Jun 04, 2017 05:13pm
Thanks NFP for such a wonderful write-up, he is at peace and stringing melodies in paradise... Rest in Peace Bro'...
Hamid Jun 04, 2017 09:51pm
A perfect case for having an agent. If Zakie had a good agent, he would have done great for himself here and in the US. He was a great artist but a terrible promoter. Tragic!
Nausheen Masud Jun 05, 2017 01:30am
heart breaking
Nausheen Masud Jun 05, 2017 01:38am
heart breaking
Mani Jun 05, 2017 04:37am
Dear NFP. It's not easy to be a star. Talent plays a small part. It's mostly mental toughness and perseverance. If it wasn't for Rohail seeking a true talent, he wouldn't have achieved the little he did. Unfortunate but sadly that's how it goes.
KAMRAN Jun 05, 2017 11:57am
Dear NFP, With due respect i felt guiltiness in your Article. you never met your friend after 2005. i feel sorry for Amir Zaki. we as a nation always fail to respect and support our heroes.
Bari Abro Jun 05, 2017 01:47pm
Thanks a lot for writing about Aamir Zaki and telling us about his journey in music, I had met him once in a concert when he abruptly stopped playing as people lacked the taste of his music and he saying you better stay with the CD playing singers. When he came down I went and shook hand with him and said, love to see you playing again on the stage , he saw me and gave a mild smile... RIP such a genius...
Khalid Jun 05, 2017 10:03pm
NFP, you should not have kept on telling him that he should have been a star. Sometimes people just need to be listened to and not given goals to achieve. You just needed to listen and give him the support of a friend. This was painful to read. We are all heartbroken on Amir's passing away and these insights in his life point are frustrating as he could have been helped and saved.
SHAZZ Jun 06, 2017 12:37pm
SAD!!!! From day 1, I loved his song "Money" I still listen to 90s. Admire them all. That was the time..... my time.... RIP Aamir (Where can I download his complete album "signature")
saleem mohamad Jun 07, 2017 02:44am
I simply missed him!
Fajji Jun 07, 2017 05:24am
Aamir Zaki exits in his signature style :( Will always remember that what you've done for Pakistan's music. Guitar maestro!!
Hotti Hamza Jun 08, 2017 08:11am
There is no words to describe the mark behind that aamir zaki left on pakistani rock scene we never forget u dear aamir zaki...!!!
ANWAR ABBASI Oct 11, 2017 11:13pm
I even read every word of this article thanks a lot sir, from childhood i am in deep love with him, still as like u when i read that headline too in this same website my heart suddenly stop beating, as like u i am not a friend of him but truly he is an asset to this country but luck didn't help him.
khan Oct 12, 2017 05:30am
Thanks for sharing NFP..
Sarfraz Oct 12, 2017 05:45am
He played in SZABIST convocation in 2003, I guess. People didn't recognized him and hooted because he was not singing. We only recognise stars once they are gone.
Furqan Ahmed Oct 12, 2017 10:39am
Amir Zaki was an absolute genius, so much he was a miss fit, now I am sure he is with the angels up there and no more has to deal with 'mediocre' :) And what a gem of an article sir NFP, it's a saga of emotions. On a serious note, you should consider directing a movie, your words create a scene for themselves...
Sajjad hameed Oct 12, 2017 11:17am
This article has been written in such an amazing way that I felt as if I were there,invisibly lookin and listening to their conversation directly. Felt as if I were there with them. It is quite ironic that people start giving importance to great people after they have departed. That people is me. After reading this article and getting to have an inside peek into Zaki's head(thanks to the writer) I feel so bad about not following Mr.Zaki as I should have. He was intelligent, as well as a wonderful musician. i wish i had at least try to have met him once and tell him how great he was. May God rest his soul in peace and hi music reach out to all the music lovers across the world. Marvelously written Mr. NFP
Irfan Ali Jun 03, 2018 01:29pm
A very good read!
Pakistanfirst Jun 03, 2018 09:58pm
NFP, great article and sad for Aamir Zaki - may he rest in peace. I read each and every article of yours that I can get my hands on - you Sir are my favourite journalist/writer. And funny thing is, I am not even a liberal!