San Francisco Celebrates
Pakistan Independence Day
By Ras H. Siddiqui
August 14th is a day that
no Pakistani can forget. Millions worldwide who are connected
to the “Mother Ship” called Pakistan also celebrate
the birth of their land of the green and white flag. Here
in the United States and especially in San Francisco, huge
gatherings are held every year as the Pakistani-American component
of our diaspora has been gathering in August as a part of
an annual tradition. This year once again over five thousand
people congregated in front of San Francisco’s historic
Civic Center to celebrate their cultural heritage as the Stars
and Stripes flew along with the Crescent Moon and the Star
to celebrate the 59th Independence Day of Pakistan.
People of all ages spanning several generations made up this
huge audience as Pakistanis, their Indian and Bangladeshi
friends along with a number of curious local onlookers representing
San Francisco’s diversity, tasted fine cuisine and took
in South Asian entertainment and fashions.
The initial entertainment segment featured the vocal talents
of singers Alka Bhatnagar and Anisha Bakshi who dazzled the
crowd with various South Asian Urdu and Punjabi hits. But
one could not overlook the Fashion Show which once again drew
a great response as “Girl Power” was in evidence
all the way. Colorful attire, Pakistani colors and great music
made this popular segment even more appealing. The participants
deserve to be recognized for brightening up the Civic Center
Local Urdu poet Javaid Sayed asked everyone for a moment of
silence for Prof. Hassan Jahangir Hamdani who was a part of
this annual event over the years. Javaid then proceeded to
present some moving verses on Pakistan.
Pictures above: Glimpses of the Pakistan Independence
Day celebrations in San Francisco
But the entertainment
was not over, because the “Alamgiri” Legend who
started Pakistani pop was amongst us. Actually it was the
late Ahmed Rushdie who in all probability began the pop phenomenon
in Pakistan with his “Koko Korina” in the soundtrack
for the film Armaan in the 1960’s. In the late 60’s
and early 70’s two singers with their roots from what
is now Bangladesh, namely Runa Laila and Alamgir, carried
that path forward. And since Runa left and Alamgir ruled Pakistani
popular music along with a young man of Iranian origin named
Shehki, Pakistani pop music has since never been the same.
And who knew that one day Alamgir would be entertaining audiences
from both Pakistan and Bangladesh here in the United States?
Alamgir had just come back from Pakistan and appeared too
tired and under the weather. But during his performance he
gave it his all and took us on a trip down memory lane. His
two initial songs “Hum Pakistan Hain” and “Kabhi
Pakistan say Guzar Kay Dekho” really set the tempo for
the afternoon. And following these “Koko Korina”
was revived along with “Shaam say Pehlay Aana”
and his super hits “Dekha Na Tha,” “Mujhe
Dil Say Na Bhulana,” Albela Raahi,” “Yeh
Shaam” and “Mast Qalandar.” A question was
asked how Alamgir looked the same as he looked years ago.
That is one secret that many of us could benefit from. But
in any case his singing talents also remain formidable.
The new Consul General
of Pakistan in Los Angeles Mr. Syed Ibne Abbas had also come
to San Francisco for this event. He presented his own Independence
Day greetings along with those of General Pervez Musharraf.
“Unity, Faith and Discipline” were revisited in
the message. Abbas Sahib said that this was a wonderful community
that made us proud especially in the aftermath of last year’s
devastating earthquake in Pakistan. “Please keep building
bridges, between Pakistan and your adopted homeland,”
he said. He also thanked the Pakistan Association of San Francisco
for putting this event together. .
Kids born on August 14th were given prizes but the drawing
of raffle tickets to Pakistan from Tri City Travel was the
main focus which one lucky winner benefited from. Another
person was not so lucky earlier because he had a medical emergency
at this event that ended his life, a first for this annual
gathering. We send our condolences to his family and prayers
for the deceased.
Our community elder Chaudhry Khua Bux spoke briefly about
the Pakistani spirit and about keeping the faith alive. And
speaking of the spirit, the most colorful and festive booth
at this event was the one set up by the Pakistan Peoples Party
Pakistan Association of San Francisco President Anwer Siddiqui
made the closing speech. He thanked everyone for coming and
for making this program successful once again. Candidate Roger
Khan, who is running for the Lodi City Council, also introduced
The singing of the national anthem of Pakistan was led by
Pakistan Association San Francisco office bearers and members
of the newly formed Pak American Gymkhana Club. Consul General
Abbas and a few thousand Pakistan-Americans assisted them
in singing the Pak Sar Zameen…”.
In closing, beautiful San Francisco once again gave the Pakistani-American
community in Northern California a chance to properly celebrate
the birth of their homeland. This annual event has kept our
community motivated and vibrant for about 15 years now. And
this reporter has been covering it over the years as best
possible, but it is now time to pass on the writing pen/keyboard
to younger and better writers.
(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 I would like to take my
leave by recognizing two individuals who have been an inspiration
for me and many others. The first is Faiz Ahmed Faiz whose
humanistic poetry lives on in many hearts. And the second
is my late leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, whose controversial
leadership and work finally appears to be vindicated today).