Consulate General and Pakistan Link/Urdu Link Organize Memorable March 23 Function
By Link Staff Reporter
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja, Annie Athar, & Dawn Howard
Anaheim, CA: The Los Angeles Consulate General of Pakistan joined hands with Pakistan Link/Urdu Link in celebrating the Pakistan Day at the spacious Cerritos Community Center on March 23. It was a heart-warming spectacle with an overflowing, emotionally charged Pakistani community exuding spontaneous love for the home country and paying glowing tributes to the founder of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Besides a large number of Pakistanis living in the Greater Los Angeles Area the audience included high-ranking members of the diplomatic corps and senior government, state and city officials including Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.
A number of speakers highlighted the importance of the Pakistan Day in the history of South Asia and how the momentous occasion served as a catalyst in the freedom movement of the subcontinent’s Muslims. Quoting statistics and citing references they furnished proof that Pakistan is a country on the march and has achieved a great measure of success in various fields after emerging as an independent state on August 14, 1947.
The speakers including Consul General Tasawar Khan, Congressman Ed Royce, Netsol Chairman and CEO Najeeb Ghori, Pakistan Link/Urdu Link President and Metals & More CEO Arif Mansuri, and Pakistan Link/Urdu Link’s Editor-in-Chief Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui, appeared sanguine that Pakistan is poised to do better under a democratic setup with a vibrant middle class defying conservative stereotypes and embracing change and a progressive outlook.
Congressman Ed Royce and his wife Marie attended the event. He thanked the Pakistan Consulate and Pakistan Link for the invitation and shared his thoughts on US-Pakistan relations. The Congressman told the gathering that he and his wife had visited Pakistan several times and that several years ago he had co-authored the legislation for aid to Pakistan. He categorically stated that the territorial integrity of Pakistan was of vital importance to the US. He mentioned that he had worked consistently for increasing the quantum of imports from Pakistan into the US and would like to see a free trade agreement between the two countries.
He recognized the contribution of the Pakistani-American business community to the economy of the United States. He also applauded the Pakistani-American media and said that it played a key role in realizing the dreams of the founders of Pakistan. The Congressman disclosed that over the years several Pakistani-American youth had interned in his office and asked the audience to encourage their sons and daughters to avail of the opportunities at his office.
In his illuminating address on the occasion, Consul General Tasawar Khan made many insightful observations. A few excerpts from his address:
“ … the last decade or so has been extremely challenging for Pakistan. Besides unprecedented natural calamities like the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods, we have been at the forefront of international efforts against the global phenomenon of extremism and terrorism. As a frontline state, the price paid by the people of Pakistan, both in blood and money, is mind boggling. Since 9/11, over 46000 Pakistani civilian, law enforcement and military personnel have lost their lives.
“Statistically it means that there had been more than one 9/11 in Pakistan every year. During this period, the losses suffered by our economy have reached over US$70 billion and counting. Sometimes, when our international partners ask us to do more or in other words lose more, the people of Pakistan rightly ask if their money and resources are of a lesser value or they themselves are the children of a lesser god. It is therefore imperative that the sacrifices made by the people of Pakistan be acknowledged and respected. Since losing is not an option, despite this enormous price, the Government and people of Pakistan remain resolute and steadfast to fight against the forces of extremism and obscurantism. We are confident that our determination and resilience will prevail, Insha Allah.
“D espite these challenges, we have continued to build institutions in the last five years that buttress democracy in Pakistan. The first ever completion of full term by a democratically elected government, installation of transitional arrangements, as constitutionally agreed by the democratic forces and the announcement of holding elections within the prescribed timeframe are omens of a changing narrative in Pakistan. The tackling of several constitutional issues that had cluttered and at times crippled our democracy, for the last more than three decades, is extremely reassuring for the strength of democracy in Pakistan. Furthermore, the presence of a vibrant civil society, a free media , and most importantly , a strong and independent judiciary gives us the confidence about the strengthening of democratic process in Pakistan.
“ Besides a democracy, Pakistan is also an open and progressing economy. The common perception is that Pakistan is an agrarian economy. Yes agriculture is the largest employer of its labor force, but, today 80% of its GDP is generated by i ndustry and services sectors. Being the world's sixth largest country and a significant market of 180 million, Pakistan offers enormous opportunities for trade and investment. With a median age of 21.5 years, Pakistan is among the world's twenty youngest countries and the biggest in this group. Pakistan has one of the biggest middle classes outside China and India. This middle class is upwardly mobile, technology - conversant and historically consumption - oriented. Pakistan has the ninth largest pool of English language speakers and is home to one of the largest trained work forces in the world.
“ We are fully cognizant of the importance of our political and economic relations with the United States, which remains Pakistan’s largest export market and source of Foreign Direct Investment. The presence of a dedicated commercial Counsellor in the Consulate is a manifestation of our desire to further strengthen our bilateral trade and economic relations. We therefore will continue with our efforts to build a deeper and robust economic relationship between our two countries …”
Najeeb Ghauri, the Chairman and CEO of NetSol Technologies, a multi-national company listed on NASDAQ, Karachi Stock Exchange and Dubai Stock Exchange, delivered a very insightful and motivating speech at the occasion, which was full of optimism about Pakistan. He shared his personal experiences about doing business in Pakistan and encouraged others to seriously consider the great business opportunities that Pakistan has to offer.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Arif Mansuri, President of PL Publications, publisher of PakistanLink/Urdu Link, felicitated the community on the auspicious occasion of Pakistan Day. “We are happy to organize these celebrations in association with the Consulate General of Pakistan ...This is the second time that we enjoy the privilege of partnering with the Consulate General in organizing a major community event. Last year, Pakistan Link/Urdu Link and the Consulate joined hands in organizing a very successful Eid Mela.
“Pakistan is on the threshold of a wholesome change. Democracy is taking roots. The judiciary is playing its due role. The media is emerging as a catalytic influence in the transition from a docile to a vibrant, progressive nation. The country is beginning to live up to the cherished dreams of its founders. The Pakistani-American community must support national expectations. Pakistan Link/Urdu Link certainly will,” Mansuri promised. He elaborated:
“Over the years, Pakistan Link and Urdu Link have religiously stuck to the task of fostering the cause of Pakistan and mirroring the nation’s strivings – past and present. We will remain steadfast in our resolve to fulfill this role.
“New America Media’, the largest national collaboration of ethnic news organizations, says this about Pakistan Link: ‘Pakistani Americans aren’t the only ones who read Pakistan Link. It also attracts university professors, leading experts on Pakistan and Southeast Asia, high level government officials and young people.’
“Akram Shaheedi, Minister (Press) at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, concurred with the New America Media report: ‘It is in my knowledge that the editorials and the news analysis published in Pakistan Link are accorded serious consideration at the policy levels of the USA Administration. The weekly is known for its pro-Pakistan stance and the community owns it with pride because the end-product is quite impressive as compared to the other similar publications of the community’.
“The strength of Pakistan Link and Urdu Link are its editors and writers. Pakistan Link and Urdu Link and our community are very fortunate to have Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui as the Chief Editor and Anwar Khawaja as Editor Urdu Link.”
Mr Mansuri expressed his sincere gratitude to Consul General Tasawar Khan, Mrs Iffat Khan, Consul Dr Khalid Ejaz, Dr Erum Ejaz and members of the Pakistan Consulate General who had joined hands with Pakistan Link/Urdu Link in organizing the memorable Pakistan Day celebrations.
Mr Mansuri thanked the sponsors - Ashraf Habibullah, CEO of Computers & Structures, Inc.; Najeeb Ghauri, Chairman and CEO of NetSol Technologies; Dr. Sohail Masood, CEO of Kaba Fusion; and Jamal Khawaja, President and CEO of JFK Realty - for their patronage.
He also thanked popular community members - Samin Faruqui, Abida Almas Ahmed, Syed Firoze Qasim, Ali Sajjad, Kamal Zafar, Mustaqim Syed, Fatima Khan, Salman Syed, Bimal Sandhu of Dhamaka Entertainment, Dr Badruddin Karwa, Waseem Baig and Hanif Noor Mohammaed, Dara Khan of Shahnawaz Restaurant, kids who participated in the evening’s program, and last but not least, his wife Debbie Mansuri and daughter Jazmyn Mansuri – for their support in organizing the event.
In his speech, Link’s Editor Akhtar Faruqui inter alia observed: “To inspire national self-belief and self-esteem, and to stage a comeback on the international stage, it is the foremost challenge, particularly amongst the youth, to rediscover the spirit and vision which animated the Pakistan Movement and the founding of the nation. To cite the Quaid, ‘Let it not be said that we proved unequal to the task.’ “
A sumptuous dinner catered by Shahnawaz Restaurant and a lively entertainment program followed. The food was delectable and the performances by Dr Badruddin Karawa, Waseem Baig and Hanif Noor Mohammaed scintillating. The gathering was enraptured, clapping spontaneously as the music and national songs filled the air.
The proceedings were emceed by Dr Erum Khalid Ejaz who stood out in her role. Indisputably, she and the organizers deserved the best superlatives for their painstaking efforts that contributed to the success of the memorable program.
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