Pakistan Consulate Visa Camp in Sacramento
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Officials from the Pakistan Consulate in Los Angeles, California traveled to Sacramento and held two events on March 30 th. The first was a “Visa Camp” held at a new venue off E. Stockton Blvd in Elk Grove and the second a community outreach dinner at the Kabab Palace Restaurant nearby. Both drew an enthusiastic response from the local Pakistani-American community and it also gave the new Consul General, Mr. Tasawwar Khan, an opportunity to interact with what is the oldest community from Pakistan in America.
The Los Angeles Pakistan Consulate covers a very large geography in the western United States, possibly an area where up to 250,000 people of Pakistani origin reside. And since most do not live near Los Angeles area these “Visa Camps” come in really handy if you want to get “Pakistani stuff” done outside of southern California. It is a good 400 mile drive from the California Capital city of Sacramento to Los Angeles for members of the Pakistani community here so when the Consulate comes to Sacramento, quite a large number of locals try to take advantage of the opportunity to get visas, NICOP cards and other passport services.
The visa camp held on Saturday, March 30 th was quite a busy event and even went into overtime. The venue was a local and very popular Pakistani-American owned business which does a good job hosting this event every year. So thanks are in order to Bashir Sahib.
Our country of origin is famous for many things including its bureaucratic hurdles and rules but what is often overlooked is the hospitality of its people. Consular officials including Dr. M. Khalid Ejaz, consulate staff and local volunteers really worked hard to answer questions and to make sure that the paperwork for passports, visas and ID cards was submitted correctly. They encountered some difficult requests too since many here from the Pakistani community have lived here for decades and have lost or misplaced their original documents, or possess long expired ones. In spite of these difficulties the Consular staff was courteous and pleasant. Over 200 people showed up at this camp.
The evening dinner at Kabab Palace gave a chance to Mr. Tasawwar Khan, the new Consul General, to get to know some facts about the greater Sacramento Pakistani community and to address local leaders. Close to 100 people, many from amongst the leadership of the region’s Pakistani-American community shared dinner and discussed a number of issues. Addressing the gathering Consul General Tasawwar Khan explained that one must not forget the resource constraints faced by the Consulate especially because of the wide area it needs to cover and the number of people it needs to service. He said that promoting the business relationship between Pakistan and the US was very important and that the entire community needs to play an active role in maintaining a good image of Pakistan by being good citizens of this country. Mr Bashir Choudry, Rashid Ahmad and Naeem Syed also addressed the gathering.
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