Najm Sheraz Gives Sterling Performance at San Francisco Celebrations
By Zaki Syed
Pictures by Shahid Hussain
Glimpses of the Independence Day celebrations in San Francisco
San Francisco, CA: On a chilly Sunday afternoon, the Civic Center in downtown San Francisco was packed with over 10,000 people. Youth gathered and danced around the famous Pakistani singer Najm Sheraz, holding up signs that said “Pakistan Rocks, No War, Love for All,” while carloads of boys drove by waving the Pakistani flag. In the background, there were kids playing football in the grass, old friends meeting each other after many years, and booths selling shawls and serving Pakistani food. It was Pakistan’s Independence Day!
On August 16, 2009, the Pakistani-American community of San Francisco celebrated Pakistan’s 62 nd Independence Day. The event was organized and held by the Pakistani American Association of San Francisco (PASF). It featured speeches from Imams and lawyers, comedy, pop quizzes, a rap, and guest appearances from Pakistani pop stars Imran Rehman and Najm Sheraz.
The masters of ceremony, Eban Hamdani, Aaman Hussain, and Saleha Hussain, did a wonderful job introducing speakers and performers, staying energetic throughout, conducting a gamed quiz, and even participating in skits involving Urdu.
The event started off with the Tilawat-e-Qur’an by Maulana Ramzan from Hayward Masjid, which was followed by Abullah who sang a naat. Mulana Bashir Sialvi from Woodland came and gave a speech in Urdu: he called upon the audience to be true Muslims and true Pakistanis. “I want Pakistanis to prove to other people in the world that Pakistani people are good Muslims and good people,” said Sialvi, “So that others can look to Pakistan as an example.”
Javed Syed, a professor at San Francisco City College, presented a few nazams and ended his speech with a passionate chant of Pakistan Zindabad.
Syed was followed by radio host and PASF volunteer, Sohab Maqbool Hamdani, who recited poems of her late husband, Syed Hasan Jahangir Hamdani. Hamdani said she was especially excited to see a huge turnout of the youth in the audience because the youth represent the future.
“My husband dedicated his life for the community and Pakistan, and it was always his dream to bring the youth forward,” said Hamdani, “They will be the ones who will carry the torch in the future.”
The youth mostly came dressed in green and white to represent the colors of Pakistan and appeared quite excited. “We were born here, but we still represent the Urdu and the culture, and still speak Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi and Punjabi,” said Mudasser Choudry, a youth who attended the event.
Shan Qureshi, another youth agreed, “I love Pakistan Day because the community comes together and shows our pride for our culture,” said Qureshi “Even though we’re separated physically, we are still united.”
After Hamdani, Javed Ellahie, a lawyer, impressed upon the audience the need for promoting education in Pakistan and fight racism at its source.
Zaki Syed, a youth from Sacramento, followed Ellahie’s performance with two rap songs on Pakistan. He rapped about all the four provinces, his personal experiences in Pakistan, and what everyone should do in order to make Pakistan better. He ended his performance with two impromptu raps on unity and Pakistan Day, topics requested by the audience.
Syed was followed by another musical performance, this time by Imran Rehman, who sang popular national songs such as “Dil, Dil Pakistan.” The audience was pleased as they sang along with Rehman, and rose and danced as he sang.
Finally came the moment that everyone had been waiting for: it was Najm Sheraz’s turn to sing. According to PASF organizers, it was absolutely necessary that Najm Sheraz attend the function.
“For the last two years everyone has been requesting that we bring in a good singer from Pakistan,” said Tariq Choudry, organizer/volunteer for PASF, “And everyone wants to hear Najam Sheraz; he sings a lot of nationalistic and patriotic songs.”
Once Najm Sheraz took the stage, the crowd almost doubled in size, as people rushed to the stage in order to hear Najm Sheraz. More and more youths gathered to dance and hold up signs and Pakistani flags, singing along with him. Sheraz kept up his energy throughout his entire performance and ended with a breathtaking version of the Qaumi Tarana (national anthem).
Kamran Amin, member of the Pakistani American Association and organizer of Pakistan Day events in Sacramento, said he was extremely pleased with Najm Sheraz’s performance. “This was the first time I have to listened to him live, and he is a very good performer. He gave us a lot of energy,” said Amin. He said the function went very well and he felt happy to see the Pakistani people being united.
“It went very well, I am seeing a lot of faces,” said Amin, “It makes you feel proud.”
The master of ceremony, Aamna Husain agreed. “It was a bigger turnout than I expected,” said Husain. “To actually see all the Pakistanis that came to celebrate from near and far made me really happy.” Husain said she felt that everyone involved was celebrating Pakistan Independence Day with a passion.
The event was a huge success. PASF succeeded in their goal to bring the Pakistani-American youth out to the event to learn about and celebrate their Pakistani culture. Everywhere one turned, one could see a symbol of patriotism and Pakistani pride. This event also taught our Pakistani community that we can work together to make a difference. They even brought out more than 10,000 Pakistani people to gather into one place. That is amazing! Right now, Pakistan is going through a tough time and the country as a whole truly needs our help. If we could use the same energy and enthusiasm demonstrated on the Independence Day and continue it, using it to help Pakistan, by writing letters, collecting funds, setting up schools in Pakistan, we could slowly but surely transform our country of origin.