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