Celebrates Independence Day in San Francisco
By Ras H. Siddiqui
jubilant Pakistani-American crowd celebrates the Pakistan
Independence Day in San Francisco
The Pakistan Association of
San Francisco once again hosted the largest annual gathering
of Pakistani-Americans in Northern California on August 19,
2007, as people came from as far as Reno, Nevada to participate
in the celebration of Pakistan ’s 60th Independence
Day anniversary right in the heart of what is considered one
of the world’s most beautiful cities.
An estimated 6000 people of Pakistani origin and their friends
from other South Asian countries and from right here in California
participated in what became an eight-hour festival which included
speeches, a great deal of song and dance, Pakistani food (Chandni
and Mehran Restaurants) and an exhibition of ethnic pride
that would make any group other in America proud. Booths represented
included The Hidaya Foundation (working to raise funds for
Flood Relief), OPEN which encourages entrepreneurship and
APPNA (Pakistani Physicians) along with the FBI (Recruitment),
to mention a few.
The event started off with the customary recitation from the
Holy Qur’an with translation. The Muslim flavor of Pakistani
culture was evident here as was the capacity of this group
to have a great deal of fun. Pakistanis are believed to number
around 500,000 in the United States where they are represented
in a variety of professions, especially in business, medicine
Family, friends, religion, food and music combined here in
San Francisco along with a tinge of politics as one guest
speaker called for continued support for democracy in Pakistan
while another from Sacramento (California State Senator Leland
Yee) came to offer his felicitations to Pakistani-Americans
for being an important part of our Golden State.
above: Glimpses of the Pakistan Independence Day celebra
tions in San Francisco
Program emcee Akhtar Shah did
a great job with keeping the program going efficiently.
Pakistan Association Board Members and President Anwer Siddiqui
certainly deserve kudos for putting this event together but
last but not least, it was the Pakistanis that made the effort
to once again come here from all over the Northern California
area, that really deserve full credit for making this day
a great deal of fun for all. Needless to say as this reporter
first bit into a delicious Nan and Chicken Boti Kabab combo,
it was but a hint that this was going to be a good day. Pakistan
Link was a major sponsor of the event.
After Kids Adeeb and Azeem Khan recited a duet, Chaudhry Khuda
Bux, a veteran of Pakistan ’s Independence movement
made a moving speech. This was followed by three or four guest
singers who graced the stage while music composer Mr. Ali
Shahabuddin was just getting warmed up.
Guest Speaker Mr. Muneer Malik, President of the Pakistani
Supreme Court Bar Association made a brief speech in Urdu
where he called for an evaluation of the past 60 years of
Pakistan ’s history and a change in direction towards
more people inclusion in the future. He reflected on America
’s own freedom struggle which included the judicial
acknowledgement and correction of laws regarding civil rights
and freedom for all, especially African Americans. He said
that recently, the Pakistani lawyer community has also been
taking the lead in upholding the rule of law of the land and
have shown the people of Pakistan what rightfully belongs
to them. He hoped that 25 years from now, a more egalitarian
Pakistan would emerge.
The Urdu Poet of the West, San Francisco ’s very own
Javaid Sayed, once again took the opportunity to move the
audience with his poetic verses. His lines contained elements
of Unity, Faith and Discipline, the three pursuits laid down
by the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Runa Rizvi and young Omair Khan next took the opportunity
to wake up the music lovers in our community with a fine lineup
of national and ethnic songs. Runa started with Jeeway Pakistan
, sang a duet with Omair, the fine Dil Dil Pakistan along
with a number of hits made famous by the late legends Nur
Jehan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. She also paid a tribute to
ailing Ghazal Legend Mehdi Hassan.
California State Senator Leland Yee (8th District) took a
brief opportunity to address the Pakistani-Americans present
to congratulate them on the 60th independence day of their
country of origin and for being an important part of California’s
social and economic fabric.
After a brief interval, Runa and Omair came back along with
Imran of the Pehchaan Group to electrify both young and old
with reproductions and their own songs. Two or three recorded
Pashtu language songs played gave the singers a break, but
sure moved young people to dance. Runa Rizvi’s “Mast
Mast” was just plain superb. The entertainment ended
with Runa and Omair singing Dil Dil Pakistan once again to
the delight of the audience.
The Pakistan Link held a raffle at the event which was won
by young Mr. Sikandar.
The event closed with the singing of the National Anthem.
In closing, once again the Pakistan Association of San Francisco
and the Pakistani- American community of Northern California,
both need to be congratulated for the commemoration of Pakistan
’s Independence Day here in San Francisco in such a