Pakistan American Chamber of Commerce Hosts Farewell Dinner for Consul General Riffat Masood
By Feroz Qasim
Buena Park, CA: Pakistan American Chamber of Commerce (PACC) organized a farewell dinner in honor of the outgoing Consul General of Pakistan Madam Riffat Masood, complete with a replica of the symbol of struggle for Pakistan, Minar-e-Pakistan and Pakistani flags decorating the stage.
As usual, the program started with the recitation of the Holy Qur'an followed by the English translation of the verses recited. National anthems of both Pakistan and the US were subsequently played. Welcome and opening remarks were presented by Arif Mansuri, Co Chair of PACC. Mr. Mansuri welcomed the honorable Consul General Riffat Masood and all invited guests and presented a history of PACC with its major accomplishments such as organizing a successful visit to Pakistan by a delegation of US political leaders and high officials, and a Day on the Hill (at the Capitol Hill), press conference at Los Angeles City Hall steps with city officials and many other events highlighting trade between US and Pakistan, fundraisers for the earthequake and flood victims in Pakistan and other activities.
He also spoke at length of Consul General Madam Masood’s tenure as the most memorable and one of the finest examples of diplomatic successes. He observed that she has been an exemplary figure in Los Angeles for the last two plus years as a representative of Pakistan and the Pakistani community; she has worked very diligently to bring our community together. Her work to highlight the Pakistani American community has resulted in improved perceptions.
The program was then moved forward by a spirited speech by PACC Founder and Chairman Mr. Waqar Ali Khan, who spoke optimistically about the future of the PACC, its major upcoming events. Mr Khan spoke highly of Madam Masood’s work in addressing the concerns of the community, a diverse and opinionated community. He thanked Madam Masood for all her help and guidance for the community to work together and be one. Waqar Khan also introduced the new board members of PACC including Arif Mansuri; Jamal Khawaja, President; Feroz Qasim, Vice President; Almas Ahmed, Treasurer; Ali Sajjad, General Secretary; Dr. Naseem Malik, Idrees Malik, Wasim Qaiser, Qazi Asad, board directors. Farook Ghais and Dr. Feroze Alam, also directors, were not present. He thanked the board members and members of other organizations who were present and made the evening an extra-ordinary one with their participation.
Fatima Khan, who had once again brought the leading lights of the community to the event, in her introduction of Consul General Riffat Masood, paid glowing tributes to Madam Masood and recounted her major career accomplishments to-date. She has been an unrelenting voice of Pakistan in improving vital relations between the two countries with her speech at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, on Pakistan-US relations last year, and at many other political and social forums where she has been a regular guest. She has urged the US to broaden its efforts and commitments to Pakistan as a strategic partner through preferential trade agreements and a realistic approach to its needs.She also thanked Madam Masood for all her help, support and guidance with many organizations such as HDF, DIL, COPAA, NISWA and Shine Humanity, to name a few.
Madam Masood spoke about the need for PACC to broaden its base and establish relations with local business societies and chambers. She talked about the need to help Pakistan elevate poverty through a structured approach and promised the government’s help in authorizing and partnering with NGO’s for a greater good, and once again reiterated her focus and the importance of education, especially educating the girls. She advised the community to maintain an active role in the local community and political affairs and not to limit their participation with in their community.
All of the Board members spoke about their experiences with the Consulate, the Consul General herself, and wished her the best in her future career. On behalf of PACC Dr. Malik presented a farewell gift of a parting plaque to Madam Masood. Others who spoke besides the board members included Ahmed Ali, Adnan Khan, Mariam Rashid , Dr. M Razzak, Shaheen Awan, Dr.Yasmin Qasim, Dr. Shoaib Patail, Tasneem Rahmani, Samin Faruqi, and Kamal Zafar. They all spoke highly of the Consul General and wished her the best. To conclude the event, Qazi Asad made a passionate Dua for the welfare and success of all participants, especially Madam Masood.
The event was organized at the Golden Nights Restaurant in Buena Park, featuring an exquisite Lebanese menu of a variety of kabab-dishes and healthy salads. The event was a smashing success, with good food and good company.
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