LAHORE - Pakistan’s iconic playback singer Arthur Nayyar was given a tearful send-off yesterday as he was laid to rest at Christian graveyard on Jail Road in the presence of his friends, relatives and family members.

Famous as A Nayyar, the 66-year-old singer died on November 11.

Eminent singers and film personalities attended his funeral at Central Church of Praying Hands. They termed his death a great loss for music industry and also raised concern on mistreatment of iconic artistes in Pakistan.

A church choir performed religious songs for the departed soul. The Bishop announced that it was an unusual funeral. “On ordinary funerals, the family and friends would sing the special prayers for the departed soul but in Nayyar’s case the song the legend singer recorded for church himself was played,” he said.

“He will remain with us through his eternal voice,” said Nayyar’s wife, with sobbing eyes, in her address at the funeral service.

Qayyum Nayyar, elder brother of A Nayyar, recalled his school days at Arifwala when Nayyar’s teacher discovered his singing talent and informed their father. “On the very same evening, our father asked Nayyar to sing a song, and from that day then there was no stopping to it.”

Sitting quietly at Cathedral’s wooden benches and looking at the coffin of A Nayyar, Daud Shams, one of his fans, took a deep breath before sharing his thoughts. “Nayyar was more patriotic than others. I must say Nayyar refused multiple offers from India to perform there but he always declined such offers,” he observed. The religious songs which he had recorded for church are masterpiece of music apart from his commercial singing, Daud told The Nation.

Nayyar started his playback singing on show Naye Fankar in 1974; after that his singing career enthralled every ear that hears his song and successfully reined the Lollywood’s music arena. His popularity reached at his peak for duet song ‘Pyar to ik din hona tha–Yeh Dil Toh Ek Din Khona Tha…’, with Naheed Akhtar from the film Kharidar. He won five Nigar Awards for outstanding playback singing for his songs in films ‘Aag’ (1979), film ‘Jeenay naheen doon gee’ (1985), ‘Ghareboan ka badshah’ (1988) and in ‘Taqat ka tufaan’ (1989).

Singer Sajjad Tafu said that he had worked with A Nayyar since 1974 and since then the unforgettable journey with the great friend continued till his death. His demise has jolted the music and film fraternity of Pakistan, he added.

Expressing his emotions, Pastor M A Joseph said that he was a great asset for the country and we have lost a valuable friend and a great human being.

Former PTV managing director Naeem Tahir said: “I must say, he was a great human being first, and then a great playback singer. He was gifted with great voice which he utilised to earn a good name for his country. He will be remembered for his kindness, and greatness as human being.”

One of his childhood friends summed up Nayyar’s whole life journey in a line saying “he was a man of integrity and dignity.”

Singer Shoukat Ali said: “Our government should start encouraging and supporting our artistes in their lifetimes instead of waiting for their death.” He urged the government to make coherent policy for their financial assistance.

Sahoukat Ali also sang the lyrical poetry of Mian Muhammad Baksh which sheds light on the man’s ultimate journey to death.

“The vocalist case for Pride of Performance was moved in 2013 through Pakistan Television Network, the institution which Nayyar served for a long time, but no development has been made in this regard,” said Haroon, an evangelist.

Singer Babar Anjum was of the view that the government ignores artistes when they are alive but later after their death they are bestowed with honour and given awards like Pride of Performance. “I am sure A Nayyar will now be awarded the prestigious award and his family will receive it. In his lifetime, however, no one bothered to honour the legend,” Babar said.