The Pakistani Spirit Awakens in
Northern California
By Ras H. Siddiqui

Dr. Abdul Jabbar
Javaid Sayed
Javed Ellahie
Khushnood Khawaja
Mahnaz Naqvi

The Pakistan Founder’s Day Committee (PFCC) and the Pakistani-American community of the San Francisco Bay area held their second annual celebration on December 25th, 2005 (Christmas Day) at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark to pay tribute to the main people who literally gave them their identity. Over 600 people gathered at this venue to pay tribute to the Founder of Pakistan Muhammed Ali Jinnah known as the Quaid-i-Azam or “Great Leader” on this his 129th birthday, and in the process also took the time to appreciate the work of Poet Allama Iqbal and educator Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

Naveeda Ellahie
Omar Khan
Zohrain Sajjad
Hanif Noor Mohammad

Under the banner of “From Despair to Hope” the people in attendance held a remembrance and recognition segment to highlight both the tragedy of the October 8, 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and Kashmir and the national resurrection and solidarity that followed it, the worst natural disaster to hit Pakistan.
The event started earlier in the day with a special 4 PM program on Pakistan’s National Poet Allama Iqbal titled “Iqbal’s Qurtaba (focus on his poem Masjid-e-Qurtaba) by Professor Syed Ahsan. This was followed by a Philatelic Exhibition “Stamps of Pakistan” which drew the interest of incoming attendees of all ages. For those interested in Pakistani stamps this was indeed a treat which was made possible by Mahboob Akhtar, Kaleem Hashmi and Syed Sarwat.

The evening program started off when emcee Omar Khan made a brief introduction and invited young Khushnood Khawaja from San Jose State University to sing a naat or poetic verse in appreciation of Islam’s Prophet(which Khushnood sang very well).
Attorney Javed Ellahie who remains the driving force behind this effort next welcomed everyone and wished them a “Happy Jinnah Day.” But keeping in mind the significance for all in attendance and beyond he did not ignore either Christmas or Hanukkah. Javed elaborated on the idea behind the Pakistan Founder’s Day event and said that we have started something that our youth can appreciate and that this was a way of giving back (This writer hopes that other Pakistani-American communities across the USA will get the message and take this trend forward).

Dr. Khan receives award
PASF President Anwer Siddiqui receives award
Idris Kothari presents essay award to a winner

Omar Khan came back to raise the community spirit. “Today we need to laugh and cry together,” he said. He explained the “Jaag Raha Hai Pakistan” (Pakistan is awakening) theme, and introduced a pictorial and Video Montage on the October 8 earthquake victims in Pakistan-Kashmir. The imagery was gruesome in parts but the spirit of the people did not appear to be broken. In the case of one particular youth interviewed it appeared to have been enhanced.
Javed Ellahie returned and invited community senior Dr. Waheed Siddiqee to present certificates to individuals and organizations who have done a great deal in Northern California for the victims of the calamity. Recognition was given to Javed Khan of the HDF, Anwer Siddiqui of the Pakistan Association of the San Francisco Bay Area (who arranged successful fundraisers for victims of both the Hurricane Katrina and the Earthquake), Jaffer Safdar, Zain Jeewanjee for doctors4help, T. Sami Siddiqui and the Syed family (Naeem, Durriya, Zaki and Tanya) from the Sacramento Area for their efforts, Dr. Afzal Arain, OPEN, The Hidaya Foundation, Din Group (Karachi) and The Citizen’s Foundation.


A group of invitees

Next the Essay Competition was introduced and explained by our very own poet Javaid Sayed who thanked judges Dr. Waheed Siddiqee, Dr. Abdul Jabbar and Huma Dar for their help in choosing the winners. Javaid also read his very moving “Jaag Raha Hai Pakistan” poem after which Dr. Jabbar revealed the names of the winners who each won a $1000 scholarship. Jawad Ahmad, Sharmeen Inayat Bhorjani and Vajeeh Siddiqui need to be congratulated for their winning entries but all the young people who submitted their work deserve to be recognized. Available winners were presented their award by Mr. Idris Kothari.
A poetic tribute to Allama Iqbal was presented by Mrs. Mahnaz Naqvi followed by a very commendable effort and tribute to the post calamity newly awakened Pakistan (also) titled “Jaag Raha Hai Pakistan” by students from San Jose State University. Written and directed by Khadija Syed, the play cast included Ali Wariach , Khadija, Adnan Siddiqui, Khushnood Khawaja, Ahmar Qadir and Hani Sheikh. The word that comes to mind here about this work is “inspiring.”
The last two items before the entertainment segment were just incredible. Omar Khan did a fine job presenting the patriotic “Video Montage” but when you have the singing and musical presence of Ali Azmat and Salman Ahmad of Junoon and Junaid Jamshed of the Vital Signs patriotism amongst Pakistanis is an easy sell. And the choice of these videos could not have been better as both the young and the old Pakistani-Americans were on their feet. Plus for those that were not moved even then Mrs. Naveeda Ellahie rocked later with jokes that had the entire audience rollicking in laughter. Her effort along with a “Pop Quiz” about Pakistan kept everyone quite involved. Mrs. Ellahie also took the opportunity to recognize local personality Ms. Raana Faiz for continuing to keep our community motivated all these years through her “Hamrahi” Radio Program.
The entertainment segment was opened by young Pakistani-American Rap and Hip Hop singer Zohrain Sajjad (aka “Internal Rymez”) who made the whole community proud. Zohrain’s new CD will be out soon so please watch out for it.


A section of the audience

Headlining the entertainment, Hanif Noor Mohammed swayed the audience with songs from Pakistan’s film industry starting with the hits of Saleem Raza and Ahmad Rushdi, a real trip down memory lane. He was accompanied by Maneshwar Judge on the tabla. One thing that we can all say about Hanif is that he sets very high standards for himself and we the audience sure appreciate it.
In conclusion, congratulations are in order to the Pakistan Founder’s Celebration Committee and our local community for making Pakistanis proud of their heritage here in Northern California. December 25th, the birthday of M.A. Jinnah, the father of the Pakistani natio,n should be celebrated in such a befitting manner by Pakistanis worldwide. Due to space constraints not everyone that made this successful program possible could be mentioned here. But their collective effort and ours especially since the October 8th earthquake have really made “Jaag Raha Hia Pakistan” a reality. Our differences, I am sure, will remain for a later date, but in the meantime Javed Ellahie and this group have really started something in the San Francisco Bay area that Pakistanis in other cities in America could emulate and benefit from. Happy New Year.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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