14 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Pakistani Singers Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant

Music is not just an art but a universal language used by talented artists to share global issues, love, unity, fame, and money, irrespective of one’s culture.

Take, for instance, the Pakistani musicians in the music scene. These artists have been in play since the 1980s, specializing in rock, pop, rap, and ghazal music, and have made a name for themselves in the industry.

Read on to learn more about 14 of the greatest and most famous Pakistani singers of all time who have been making headlines, highlighting their work and achievements.

1. Zayn Malik

Though born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, Zayn Malik‘s parents are of Irish, British, and Pakistani descent, and he grew up in a strict Muslim household.

His claim to fame began with auditioning for the X Factor‘s popular talent competition program in 2010 when he was 17. Simon Cowell matched him with four other competitors on the show and formed the popular boy band One Direction.

One Direction released four studio albums that all reached #1 on the charts before Malik left the group to perform as a solo act in 2015. As a solo artist, “Pillowtalk” is known to be his best single.

2. Rafaqat Ali Khan

Our first Pakistani singer is Rafaqat Ali Khan. This music pioneer has portrayed immense music business talent for over two decades.

Born into a musical lineage, Ali Khan began singing at a young age with the help of his father. He later began his solo music career, touring countries such as India, the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia.

Years into his craft, he joined Coke Studio Pakistan Season 9 and debuted his most famous song, “Tu Kuja Man Kuja,” which captured many fans’ hearts. Ali Khan is also a well-known playback singer of various films, like Krrish and Youngistaan.

3. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan     

Born in Punjab in 1974, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a Bollywood Pakistani musician who focuses on Qawwali, ghazal, classical, Sufi, and Filmi music.

Ali Khan started his career with the help of his uncle NFAK’s Qawwali music group, where they toured the UK and had solo performances, fine-tuning his craft.

He worked as a playback vocalist in a Bollywood movie called Paap, in 2003, singing the song “Mann Ki Lagan.” He also released the Back 2 Love album in 2014, debuting his single “Zaroori Tha,” which has over 1.3 billion views on YouTube.

4. Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan

If you are a pop or classic Pakistani music fan, listening to Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan will brighten your day. The singer was also the lead vocalist of the pop rock band Fuzön until his separation from the group in 2006.

As with other singers on this list, Shafqat is from a musical family. He is the son of iconic musician Ali Khan; thus, you might assume he is a musical prodigy.

Some of his popular songs today include “Aankhon Ke Sagaar” and “Khamaj.” He has also composed some Bollywood film hits, including “Mitwa” from the movie Kabi Alvida Na Kehna, which accorded him the GIFA Best Male Playback Singer in 2006.

5. Sajjad Ali

Born in 1962, Sajjad Ali is a Pakistani rock, classical, and pop singer. His debut into the music industry was through a classical album called Master Sajjad Sings Memorable Classics back in 1979.

Since then, he’s released several classic hits. Recently, Sajjad Ali has experimented fusing jazz sounds with Sufi in the song “Sajjad-Ali Sinsym Fligh” and has had massive success with his 2017 “Tamasha.”

Aside from singing, this iconic artist has starred in Bollywood films, such as the 1989 Love Letter and Aik Aur Love Story, released in 1999. Ali has also contributed to several TV shows, including Aap Janab and Raag Rang.

6. Arif Lohar

Arif Lohar is a well-known Punjabi folk singer. He first rose to fame after releasing the famous track “Jugni” in collaboration with Nooran Lal in 2006.

Lohar has performed in more than fifty international music shows and concerts. As of today, he has recorded over 3,000 songs and 150 albums. Lohar is also a Coke Studio performer, allowing fans to revere his music.  

Lohar’s prominence and fame made him a Pakistani icon, resulting in his recognition and selection for the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 during the Brit Asia TV Music Awards.

7. Atif Aslam

Our next singer is one of the best musicians in the current Pakistani music industry. Not only does Atif Aslam have killer vocals, but his acting skills are impeccable, making him a prominent playback singer and actor in Pakistan.

In his musical career, Aslam made several hit songs, including “Doorie, Tu Jaane Na,” and “Jeena Jeena,” among others.

His abilities and works earned him a Dubai Walk of Fame star in 2019, and because of his talent and influence, he was also featured in Forbes Asia’s 100 Digital stars in 2020.

8. Hadiqa Kiani

Serving as the first famous female Pakistani on this list is Hadiqa Kiani. Kiani is an actress, guitarist, philanthropist, and singer-songwriter who performs folk and pop music.

Kiani deserves a spotlight on this list as she is a recipient of many international and local awards. They include the Best Female Singer in the Pakistani Industry Awards in 1996 and the Best English song, “Living This Lie,” in 2008, among others.

She was also recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Government College University in 2022. Kiani’s impeccable talents have earned her the success and recognition she deserves.

9. Alamgir

Born in 1955, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and musician Alamgir Haq is famously known as the Creator of Pop because he pioneered pop music in Pakistan.

The singer rose within the ranks of Pakistani music after singing on television. He later released his famous songs “Albela Rahi” and “Pyar Hai Zindagi Ka Gehna,” winning many fans’ hearts.

In 2013, the president of Pakistan recognized and awarded Alamgir the Pride of Performance Award. Haq also holds a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 for his dedication and craft in the music and film industry.

10. Farhan Saeed

Actor, director, and singer-songwriter Farhan Saeed is a prominent and successful Pakistani musician. He was part of the pop-rock band Jal until it was disbanded in 2011, after which he began his solo career.

With Jal, Saeed had achieved stardom way before his solo endeavor began, but some of his popular songs, including “Pi Jaun” and “Roiyan Roiyan,” put him on the Pakistani music map.

Saeed has made other singles, including “Saathiya,” which has become a crowd favorite. Since 2014, he has also started acting, gaining lead roles in TV series and films.

11. Sahir Ali Bagga

Another Pakistani singer worthy of being on this list is Sahir Ali Bagga. He is known for his impeccable singing and lyrical composition. His attractive voice makes him one of the top musicians in Pakistan.

Ali began his music career as a drummer for the Jupiters band, where he met singer Jawad Ahmad. Later, he composed and wrote many songs for Ahmad, gaining even more popularity in the music industry.

His songwriting skill is also behind some of Bollywood’s greatest soundtracks, including, Tamanna and Hijarat, released in 2016 and 2014, respectively.

12. Bohemia (Roger David)

Roger David, known professionally as Bohemia, was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, and calls himself the Punjabi Rapper. He started the genre, which is now called Desi hip-hop.

His family moved from Peshawar to California when Bohemia was 14. He learned about music from his father and released his first album in 2002. 

Bohemia’s second album, Pesa Nasha Pyar, was the first rap album in Punjabi released by a major record label. According to Maxim India, it hit #2 in the top 10 downloads of the year.

His third album earned several Asian music award nominations, and his fourth album won Best Non-Resident Album at the 2013 PTC PTC Punjabi Music Awards.

13. Arooj Aftab

Born in Saudi Arabia, Arooj Aftab had Pakistani parents who moved the family back to Pakistan when she was ten. The singer taught herself to play guitar and became one of the first people in the country to promote her music online.

Industry insiders credit her with starting the Pakistani indie music scene. She references artists like Billie Holiday and Mariah Carey as influences.

Aftab studied jazz, music engineering, and music production at the Berklee College of Music. In April 2022, she became the first Pakistani artist to win a Grammy when she received Best Global Music Performance for the song “Mohabbat.”

14. Ghulam Ali

Ending this list with the iconic Pakistani musician, Ghulam Ali, is only fitting. Born in 1940, Ali may be the oldest but most famous singer to grace the Pakistani music scene.

He was a well-known vocalist with a unique ghazal—poetic—singing style that dominated the Pakistani airwaves during the 1960s. A few of his lyrical compositions include “Lamha Lamha,” “Mahtab,” “Madhosh,” and “Haseen Lamhe,” some of which have also been featured in Bollywood movies.

These classical contributions have earned the singer a number of prestigious recognition, including a Pride of Performance Award and a Star of Distinction from the president of Pakistan.

Summing Up Our List Of Great Pakistani Singers

Pakistani music has come a long way, from the old traditional music style to the pop and rock styles. This music scene has provided a great platform for hundreds of artists and has allowed the Pakistani music industry to grow exponentially.

That said, the above Pakistani singers have enjoyed acclaimed status globally. They hold the mantle for the new and upcoming artists focused on leaving a mark in the industry.

If you are a Pakistani music fan, consider listening to these famous singers and enjoy their timeless music.

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.