Remembering Pakistani pop icon Nazia Hassan on her 18th death anniversary


August 13 marks the death anniversary of one of the most iconic figures in the history of Pakistani music, Nazia Hasan. Nazia passed away almost two decades ago on this date at the young age of 35, in London, following a prolonged battle with lung cancer.

The ultimate “pop queen” of the 80s and 90s, Nazia Hasan was Pakistan’s sweetheart whose songs were on everyone’s playlist.

Nazia, who was born on April 3, 1965, shot to popularity through Pakistan Television’s (PTV) programme Sung Sung.

The sensational singer, who was also a lawyer and a social activist, started her music career at the mere age of 10.

She enjoyed widespread popularity across South and Southeast Asia and has been termed as the “Queen of Pop” in South Asia. She, along with her brother Zoheb Hassan, went on to sell over 65 million records worldwide. Her English language single Dreamer Deewane made her the first Pakistani singer to make it to the British charts.

Hassan made her singing debut with the song Aap Jaisa Koi, from, the Indian film Qurbani (1980). Her debut album, Disco Deewane (1981), charted in fourteen countries worldwide and became the best-selling Asian pop record up at the time.

She received numerous national and international awards, and became the first Pakistani to win the Filmfare Award at the young age of 15 and remains the youngest recipient of the award to date.

Hassan was also a recipient of Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Pride of Performance.

In addition to singing in films, Hassan was also a philanthropist and was appointed by UNICEF as its cultural ambassador in 1991. Her last album, Camera Camera (1992), was part of a campaign against drugs.

However, despite all the fame and success, her brother Zoheb in an interview revealed that the music sweetheart, “died an unhappy person, she died in pain.”

On her birthday in April this year, Google honoured her with a doodle and in a statement said, “When young Pakistani girls in the 1980s closed their eyes and clutched a pretend mic in their hands, swaying and singing, a major inspiration was Nazia Hassan. Hassan, sometimes referred to as the “Princess of Pop”, was a sensation the likes of which hadn’t been seen in the region in years. Young and graceful, with long flowing hair, she charmed the country by belting out favourite songs Disco Deewane and Boom Boom alongside her brother Zoheb.”