COPAA Hosts Dinner in Honor of Foreign Minister
A Pakistan Link Report
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureishi, COPAA officials and guests at the dinner hosted by the Council of Pakistan American Affairs
The Council of Pakistan American Affairs (COPAA) hosted a dinner in honor of Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, at the Hyatt Regency Orange County on Friday, October 2, 2009. The dinner brought together a large number of community members to hear the Foreign Minister on a wide range of issues that are current and topical and impact the life of Pakistanis at home and abroad.
The proceedings began with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Ismail KeeKeeBhai, Secretary COPAA. Anila Ali emceed the proceedings.
In his welcome remarks, Adnan Khan, President COPAA, recalled the 16-year history of the Council and its multifarious services to Pakistan and the community in the US. He proudly recounted how the Council “defeated a sitting Senator” and “brought the Brown Amendment to overturn the Pressler Amendment.”
The COPAA President paid tributes to members of the community for their continuing concern and support for fellow Pakistanis. Adnan appeared in a buoyant mood and spoke highly of his hard-working compatriots citing the zest and verve of the diplomatic staff in the Los Angeles Consulate of Pakistan as an example. To the applause of the charged audience, the COPPA President declared that Pakistan is “a country that is going to move forward.”
Educated at Cambridge, Minister Qureshi appeared very much a Cantabrigian in his address to the community. He was not nettled in his encounter with the press moments before he addressed the gathering, and appeared equally sedate as he took questions from the community.
He was “overwhelmed” by the audience’s “warmth, hospitality and commitment to Pakistan.” The community was “doing a wonderful job in cultivating friendship with the US … You are an educated class …You have earned a lot of respect and will earn more in the years to come … Keep up the good work … I thank you on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan.”
The community in the US has “talent, knowledge, and expertise.” Tangible results could accrue if these attributes could be harnessed for Pakistan’s development.
He also thanked Consul General Ibne Abbas, Commercial Consul Shahid Tarar, and outgoing Consul Ahsan Wagan “for doing your job well” and earning a good name for the Foreign Office.
Sharing the current political situation in Pakistan with members of the community, Minister Qureshi said that “democracy has been restored, we have a functioning parliament, independent judiciary, free electronic and print media, and no political prisoners.” Expressing his party’s resolve “to restore the Constitution to its original shape,” Minister Qureshi spoke of many positive developments and made the all-incisive point, “We have a long way to go but we have started moving in the right direction.”
“We have increased diplomatic space for Pakistan – 20 world leaders in September 2009 have expressed confidence in what the government is doing.” He was referring to the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in New York chaired by President Obama and President Zardari and attended by prime ministers and heads of government of several European countries. He informed the gathering the Chinese are willing to invest in the water sector and build 12 dams. 10,000 Chinese engineers and workers are already working on 120 projects in Pakistan. Pakistan’s relations with the European Union have been “upgraded” and ties with Afghanistan “dramatically improved in the last one year.”
Dr Mansoor Shah, a past President of COPAA, animatedly conducted the question-answer session.
At the end of the program members of the United for Pakistan Independence Day were given plagues in recognition of their splendid efforts in organizing the Independence Day celebrations in August this year.