Pashto Pop & More at Sacramento Pak Independence Day
A Pakistan Link Report

Over 1200 Pakistani and Afghan-Americans gathered in Sacramento , California to celebrate the Independence Day of Pakistan on September 2, 2007 , the last of a series of events to be held in northern California this year for the occasion. Lucky for the community, this was also the Sunday before the Labor Day holiday, so one could enjoy a late program in a relaxed mood. But the atmosphere at this community center was far from relaxed as the seating arrangements only met the needs of around 900 people. But it mattered little for the young men who preferred to dance rather than sit during the latter part of the program.
San Francisco started the 2007 Independence Day series on August 19th with Runa Rizvi headlining the entertainment there. In Davis, Sajjad Ali topped off the performer’s list on August 25th, and at this September 2nd. event the night belonged to Nooran Lal and the sensational Rahim Shah who was probably singularly responsible for the presence of the large Afghan and Pakistani Pathan community at this event. Aiding this effort here were Arif Butt, Faisal, Asia Khan and Master of Ceremonies Shahzaib.
Local talent Zaki Syed, Anwaar and the emerging Pehchaan group led by Imran opened the program. The local Pakistani Business Community and Pakistan Link were a part of the sponsorship team at this gathering which in the words of host Naeem Syed became a victim of its (and Sohail Shahzad’s) own success.
Entering the packed hall, we encountered Zaki Syed doing his rap number “Pakistan Zindabad,” as Shahzaib next took over the task of emcee. Faisal next rallied the audience with his Punjabi Bhangra presentations with an inclusion of Sayooni Mera Mahi.
Arif Mansuri of Pakistan Link next congratulated the gathering on this Independence Day event. He also took the opportunity to promote the Link and its role in fair and unbiased reporting of events that the Pakistani-American community puts together (like this one). He added that the Link remains the largest newspaper for our community in the United States and that it invites participation from contributors interested in community development at all levels.
Local luminary Bashir Chaudhry was recognized for his contribution to this effort along with Shahid Hussain, Haq Nawaz and Nadeem Nasir and a host of others. Bashir said that there was strength in our diversity and that it was necessary for our youth to know our heritage.
And speaking of youth, Owais Raza did a fantastic job during his speech on Pakistani history. Another speaker, Choudhry Rashid Saeed added to these thoughts by offering a passionate speech on the community’s love for their country of origin.
But it was back to entertainment as the Pehchaan Group presented a bouquet of moving songs including a remake of Ahmad Rushdi’s Dil ko jalana.. Pehchaan was followed by “Desi Jackson” presenting his own version of the moonwalk along with other dance moves.
Sohail Shahzad next presented a number of gifts to kids in the audience including IPods and even a Playstation. The kids also received a number of Pakistani flags which they were seen waving throughout the rest of the program.

Rahim Shah (left) delights the audience (above) with his scintillating performance at the Independence Day celebrations in Sacramento on September 2

The colorful Asia Khan presented a number of songs starting off with the late Nur Jehan’s “Chandni Raatain” along with a number of Punjabi hits. Arif Butt followed with his own attempts to rally the crowd including “Teri Meherbaani.” Ajit Singh and Farhaan on their dhols (drums) certainly provided tempo to this act. Shahzaib followed by providing a convincing voice impersonation of Bollywood greats including Yusuf Khan.
Melody Queen Nooran Lal next delighted everyone by starting off with a national song by the original Melody Queen the late Nur Jehan. Nothing energizes Pakistani gatherings like her old songs. Nooran sang a mixture of hits and succeeded in exciting what was till that point a pretty tame audience.

Independence Day celebrations in Sacramento

But next, when the King of Pashto Pop Rahim Shah came on to the stage, everything pretty much went out of control. The first thing that this proud Pathan did was that he asked for a Pakistani flag to wave for this occasion. He started off singing his moving “Channa” and Teray Isq. All attempts by the program organizers to keep the youth from mobbing the stage were made difficult, because Rahim Shah himself is quite an entertainer. We came to listen to “Jhoola” which miraculously went uninterrupted thanks to its being a tribute to all the mothers present. But then I had to leave the front row to dancing Pakistani-American youth because once he started singing in Pashto, the energy level became just too much.
Rahim Shah is from a Pathan family that originated from Peshawar , Pakistan . But people in Karachi claim him as their own because he grew up in the Malir Town of that city. His smart looks and a voice that can be truly enchanting have made him a Pop icon in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan (especially because he can sing Pashto and Dari – Persian - songs with ease). The only problems that he had at this event were due to his own popularity. He had to be whisked away by event security personnel after his performance because pressure from his fans became just too much.
In conclusion, the organizers of this event deserve to be thanked along with Mehran Restaurant in Sacramento for making this evening extremely enjoyable. The only thing that has to be addressed for next year is the capacity of the venue. Pakistan Zindabad from Sacramento !



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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