A Pakistan International Airlines plane carrying 40 passengers and at least seven crew members crashed Wednesday (Dec. 7), about 45 miles north of Islamabad, the country’s capital. Among the passengers on board was Junaid Jamshed, a renowned Pakistani pop star who had become an evangelical cleric in recent years.
“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris is scattered,” a government official based in Havelian, the village where the plane crashed, told Reuters. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.
The dual turboprop engine plane was bound for Islamabad from Chitral, a city in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkwha province. Jamshed’s final tweet from Dec. 4 was posted from Chitral, which he described as “heaven on earth.” According to media reports, Jamshed had been in Chitral with his family on a preaching mission.
Jamshed, 52, shot to stardom in the 1980s as the frontman for one of Pakistan’s first rock bands, Vital Signs, which achieved international acclaim and commercial success with hits like “Dil Dil Pakistan” and “Tum Mil Gaye.” After the band broke up in the 1990s, Jamshed went on to pursue a successful solo career.
In 2004, Jamshed renounced his pop music career and announced that he would spend his life in devotion to Islam. Jamshed joined the Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni group that espouses a particularly conservative type of Islam. His appearance changed; the star abandoned his Western clothes for traditional Pakistani attire and grew out a beard. He frequently appeared on television to preach about Islam.
But his devotion to the faith came in question in 2014, when the preacher was accused of blasphemy after a video emerged of him mocking Ayesha, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad. Jamshed apologized for the incident and kept a low profile thereafter.
His death has unleashed an outpouring of grief from Pakistanis all over social media.