Pakistan is predominantly known for its Sufi or Qawalli music across the world. This session aims to broaden this current understanding of its diverse musical history through a preliminary guide to other types of music prevalent in Pakistan ranging from traditional folk to contemporary pop. Geographically situated in the Indian sub-continent, Pakistan shares much of its rich musical heritage with its neighbouring countries of South Asia including India, Iran, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. This session will also share an overview of these common historical cultural connections to expand on the category of ‘Pakistani’ music.


Wajiha Ather Naqvi is a multidisciplinary creative professional from Karachi, Pakistan. With an academic background in cultural anthropology, she is also a music researcher, a vocalist and songwriter. Having completed her undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology at Lahore University of Management Sciences, she went on to obtain her postgraduate degree at New York University in 2012, focusing on sacred music from the Islamic world. Since then, she has consulted with the development sector and has worked extensively with civil society organizations on designing music and cultural programs for peace-building in conflict communities. She has also been a visiting faculty member at the Szabist University and Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi where she has taught courses on the anthropology of music. She has been under formal training in North Indian classical music for the last four years under Rauf Saami and his father Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, and first appeared on Coke Studio Pakistan Season 11 as one of the backing vocalists. She was featured as one of the lead artists for the latest season of Coke Studio Pakistan in 2020 and was also leading the research and creative strategy for the music platform.