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Junoon: Pakistani Band Continues to Rock for Peace


Two years after its “Passion for Peace” tour stop here rocked Miller Auditorium, Pakistani-American rock group Junoon is back in town with the same goal in mind: To use its music to unite people across ideological and religious divides.

The trio, consisting of founding members Ali Azmat on vocals, guitarist Salman Ahmad and bassist Brian O’Connel, plays the State Theater on Monday as part of its current U.S. tour.

Azmat and Ahmad are Pakistani Muslims, while O’Connel is an American Catholic. They formed Junoon, which means “passion” in Urdu, in 1990, but there were challenges from the beginning.

Ahmad was born in Pakistan, but moved to Tappan, N. Y., as a teenager, to attend junior high and high school. After he heard the music of Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Santana, Ahmad started playing guitar in garage bands, a move that scared his parents enough that they put him on a plane back to Pakistan, where they hoped he would become a doctor. But rock won out. O’Connel and Azmat later met Ahmad in Karachi, Pakistan, where they formally started Junoon and began practicing and recording…