Junoon Enlivens LA Independence Day Celebration
A Pakistan Link Report

The Junoon team perfoms at the Independence Day celebration

Consul General N.M. Jadmani delivers his speech

Los Angeles, CA: A spectacular display of fireworks and a scintillating performance by Junoon were the highlights of the Los Angeles Pakistan Independence Day celebration at the LA Memorial Coliseum on August 6. It was a rare spectacle. The show of love for the sohni dharti was profuse, soul-lifting, and spontaneous.
The air was balmy. The Pakistani Americans appeared at their best. Impeccably dressed up for the jubilant occasion, they were visibly confident, self-assured, vociferous and disciplined. The community demonstrated maturity as responsible citizens of the United States of America with roots in the land of the pure. Ham zinda qom haen, painda qom haen, ham sab ki hae pehchan, ham sab ka Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan. The mood was contagious.

“Are you proud to be Pakistanis?” asked Juggy D who enlivened the evening with his songs. The crowd assented in a thunderous roar testifying to its profound love for the home country.
In a recorded message played on the occasion, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz complimented the Los Angeles community on its successes and urged its members to fulfill their due role in the development of Pakistan. “Pakistan is on the road to progress … it takes a while to reach the destination … we need your ideas” to achieve national goals, he told the community. He exhorted the Los Angeles Pakistanis to “provide links” between Pakistan and the USA.

Huma Ahmed and CG Jadmani
Hamid Malik
Pervaiz Lodhie with his son and daughter

The Independence Day anniversary proceedings began with a political segment emceed by Huma Ahmed. Recitation from the Holy Qur’an was followed by the national anthems of the US and Pakistan sung by Shaza Sattar and Madeeha Jadmani respectively. A number of dignitaries graced the occasion, including LA Mayor Antonio R. Villraigosa, Assemblymember Judy Chu, Member Board of Equalization John Chiang and LA County Sheriff Leroy Baca.

SAN stall
Consulate General’s stall

In his address on the occasion, Consul General Jadmani expressed his “sincere appreciation to members of the South Asian Festival of Los Angeles (SAFLA), who through their untiring efforts and unflinching determination and dedication put together a wonderful event to celebrate this auspicious occasion. They are the youth of the community and represent our future. My heartfelt thanks also go out to the members of the Pakistani American community who have come together in supporting this event, which I hope will be appreciated and remembered by the community.”

Shaan stall
Consulate General’s stall

Continuing, the Consul General made the incisive point: “Events like the Independence Day celebration provide an opportunity to showcase the community. They serve to demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of our people are moderate, want to lead progressive lives, desire creating a better future for themselves and their children and like to enjoy what life has to offer. It is therefore, essential that prominent community members step forward in supporting similar events which would help in projecting a better image of the community. At the same time I would urge the community to resist divisive tendencies on such occasions which can only do harm.”

Groups of jubilant Pakistanis

The entertainment segment of the program, emceed by Imran Ahmed, began at 8.30 pm. It included a presentation by the Aga Khan Foundation, bhangra performances by Sher Foundation, ISC Punjabi Soormay and UCI Rangla Punjab, skits by local youth, milli naghmae (patriotic songs) by Habib and Nadeem Wali Mohammad, pop and R&B hits by Juggy D, and finally, a dazzling performance by Junoon. The community was visibly charged and almost in a trance as Ali Azmat, Salaman Ahmad and Brian O’Connell made subtle, spirited exhortations with Khudi ko kar buland itna kae har taqdeer sae pehlae, Yaroon yehi dosti hae, and Yar bin dil mera nahin lagta. The sound system left much to be desired yet the crowd appeared spellbound, unmindful of the high decibel levels that raised the pulse beat of many.
Yet the sound system was not the sole irritant for the community present in the LA Coliseum. Indisputably SAFLA has brought about a qualitative improvement in organizing the Independence Day celebration yet its performance on Saturday was not entirely flawless. The mandatory “donation” of $ 5 for entering the coliseum was resented by quite a few community members. The absence of popular Pakistani food vendors like Shahnawaz, Bismillah, Alwatan, Bilal, etc was another cause of annoyance. Quite a few individuals also complained of a serious lack of representation of local talent in the program. Ashraf Ali, President, Pakistan American Arts Council, remarked that at least “half a dozen Pakistani artists are roaming around” and they should have been given a chance to perform. Mr Hamid Malik, President, COPAA, felt such programs need to be “more organized.” The Independence Day celebration is “a community function…” The community “has to be more involved. There are people who have done some good programs. They should be associated with the Independence Day celebration. All PSAs in the LA campuses should have a role in organizing the program,” Mr Malik felt.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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