San Francisco's Show
of Love for Pakistan
By Ras H. Siddiqui
General Jadmani at the celebration PASF Board members
Siddiqu Javaid Sayed Zaki
Fourteenth August is a special
day. Not just for Pakistan but for the millions worldwide
who claim direct or indirect connection to the green and
white. Huge gatherings were held in major cities around
the world during this past week or so to commemorate the
58th Independence Day celebrations of Pakistan. And San
Francisco, being a major city was not left behind, becoming
the focal point of Pakistani heritage in Northern California
on Sunday, August 14, 2005, as over five thousand people
gathered in front of the City’s historic Civic Center.
They congregated in patriotic fervor to celebrate the birth
of their homeland, listen to speeches, taste fine cuisine
and take in South Asian entertainment and fashions as the
youth and even us older folk swayed to rap, geets, devotional
and Western infused Bhangra music.
Khan and Azeem Khan
To begin with, this reporter found Dr. Khawaja Ashraf setting
a somewhat somber yet realistic tone for the program, calling
on the local Pakistani-American community to police itself.
Dr. Ashraf called on Pakistanis to rise to the defense of
their American homeland as this is very much our home now.
“The United States and Pakistan are both our homelands,”
he said. “This is our country,” he added. He
ended his speech with a call to everyone to remember to
visit San Francisco around the 14th of August and to attend
this gathering (which is now a tradition for our community
from all over Northern California). “God Bless Pakistan
and God Bless the United States of America,” he said.
of the National Anthem
of the Fashion Show
Emcee Akhtar Shah echoed the same sentiments in his follow-up
by calling on Pakistani-Americans to make sure that America
Maulana Bashir Sialvi in a short speech next expressed the
sentiments of many as he said that this was a day of great
joy for all of us.
Eleven-year-old twins Adeeb
and Azeem Khan next took the opportunity to stir up many
patriotic sentiments as they sang “Sohni Dharti”
to not only the delight of their proud parents but all of
us in attendance. Their performance was followed by a delightful
Pashtu language song (pre-recorded). Zaki Syed next presented
his sentiments in rap form on the topic of ABCD’s
(American Born Confused Desis).
Sultan Riazul Hassan and Salim
Mastan struck a more religious note when the former called
for a prayer of thanks for the achievement of Pakistan which
is our identity while the latter made a call for fundraising
for an Islamic center in nearby Livermore, California which
could use community help.
|A Section of the
The entertainment segment
got off to a big start with Alka Bhatnagar accompanied by
Raj Sohal. Alka starting off with “Allah hi Allah
Kiya Karo” and proceeded to sing a number of Pakistani
as well as Indian songs. Madam Noor Jehan’s “Nehr
Waley Pul Tey Bula Kay” and Dama Dum Mast Qalandar
were greatly appreciated by the now fast growing crowd.
Shah & PASF President Anwer Siddiqui.
The Fashion Show that followed
drew a positive response as “Girl Power” appeared
to be in charge all the way. Colorful dresses, Pakistani
colors and the background music gave this presentation a
certain level of appeal that made it a commendable effort.
It certainly gave “Pakistan Zindabad” a new
twist. Sophia Ahmed, Sundas Yaqoob and Sholah Ramish and
all the participants deserve to be recognized for brightening
up the Civic Center Plaza and the Independence Day celebration.
San Francisco’s (and Lahore’s) own Urdu poet
and passionate orator Javaid Sayed next made his speech
to touch many hearts. Starting off on an appeal for peace
between India and Pakistan, Sayed called for a resolution
of the Kashmir problem and condemned extremism and those
that hurt Islam and Pakistan’s image.
Consul General of Pakistan in Los Angeles Noor Mohammad
Jadmani who came to San Francisco especially to grace this
event presented the messages of General Pervez Musharraf
and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz congratulating all of us
on Pakistan’s Independence Day. He said that the people
of Pakistan were dynamic, intelligent and hard working.
“Have pride in yourselves as Pakistanis,” was
the message from General Musharraf. “Pakistan is a
frontline state in the war on terrorism,” said Jadmani.
He added that the community here made Pakistanis all proud
and thanked everyone for coming to this gathering and remembering
A prize drawing from Western
Union, a grand sponsor of this event (along with Zebra Rice
and Farmers Insurance plus Pakistan Link and a host of others)
was followed by a very passionate presentation once again
by Zaki Syed. His “Humara Pakistan, Tumhara Pakistan”
has to receive a wider audience. Whether the emcee understood
it or not, it moved some locals in attendance to tears.
Great presentation Zaki! And the same goes to the Hip Hop
Group “Aman” which made a short but impressive
Mastan hangs Medal on Anwer Siddiqui
Alka Bhatnagar and Raj Sohal
came back with some popular Bollywood songs and Mr. Sandhu
sang “Kurti Mal Mal Di.” And right after them
a local who is making a name for himself, “Sir Punj”
(the artist formerly known as T.J. Cool) really made a big
impact. His three songs sure got some youngsters in the
audience going, starting with “Sadda Dil hai Pakistani”
(Our heart is Pakistani) and “Aa Ja Goriyay”
plus “Kurti.” Sir Punj’s new album “Kehra
Pind Tera?” (Where is your home?) is about to be released
Imran and the Pehchan Entertainment group closed the Entertainment
segment with several crowd favorites. Starting off with
a devotional number originally by the late Nusrat Fateh
Ali Khan, the group presented several Punjabi songs from
Ibrar Ul Haq
including the now legendary “Billo Dey Ghar.”
Pehchan is quite a high-energy act and only the diehard
youngsters could keep up with them this late in the day.
Celebrates Pak Independence.
A couple married on August
14 assisted in drawing a number of Raffle tickets from Tri
City Travel (Emirates Airlines and PIA). Western Union was
not far behind along with Zebra Rice with their own drawings.
Current Pakistan Association of San Francisco President
Anwer Siddiqui made the closing speech. He thanked everyone
for making the occasion a success once again.
“Unity, Faith and Disciple are basic principles for
everybody,” he said. He added that we should all be
grateful to Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and quoted
from his famous “We are a Nation”…speech.
“We are proud Pakistanis,” said Mr. Siddiqui.
The singing of the National Anthem of Pakistan led by the
guitar sound of Anwar Ali of the “Dream Sound”
Band closed the program as the evening made its appearance
outside San Francisco City Hall. Unfortunately only a fifth
of the people who had gathered earlier were there to participate
in the singing of the closing anthem.
In closing, the Pakistani community in Northern California
once again needs to be congratulated for continuing the
tradition of participating in this annual event in beautiful
San Francisco. And Pakistan Link is proud to have been among
the sponsors of this event.
(Dear Editor:. It has been our annual tradition to dedicate
this event and report to Pakistanis who have made a significant
difference in our lives. This year the choice is easy because
it goes to the man that started it all, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad
Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. His vision is what
we need to revisit today to achieve - “Enlightened