Sacramento Celebrates Pakistan’s Independence Day with Enthusiasm
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Pakistani American Association of Sacramento and a local team of dedicated volunteers celebrated Pakistan’s 67 th Independence Day (if you don’t count the first one) with a great deal of enthusiasm on Saturday, August 30 th here in California’s capital city. Approximately 2000 people from across the region congregated at the Shaz Banquet Hall parking lot for a night to celebrate the independence of their country of origin.
The arrangements were carefully done, the stage quite professional and the evening weather was pleasant enough too, as people continued to arrive as late as 9:30 pm to eat food, dessert and socialize. Many people wore the green and white colors of Pakistan and swayed to the music of Khurram Irfan, Malkoo and last but not least Ali Haider all the way from Pakistan on his first American tour in many years.
The formalities began with a recitation from the holy Qur’an by a young lady from the community while a young man followed with an inspirational rendition of Junaid Jamshed’s “Dil Badal De”. Emcee Sohail Shahzad surprisingly came out of his quick retirement and conducted the program quite well. Our regular Naeem Syed was missed on stage this time. Co-host Javaid Akhtar’s inspirational opening aided with passionate poetry was also very well received. With kites (guddis/patangs) flying above, the event started off on a somber note as Sohail called for a minute of silence for the soldiers of the Pakistan Army who have been killed or injured during operation Zarb-e-Azb currently going on against terrorists along the Afghan border.
This was followed by the playing of the national anthems of the United States and Pakistan as the audience of American-Pakistanis and their friends stood up to sing along or showed their respects with their hands on their hearts. Children participated on stage during this segment and they looked great!
A video tribute to Pakistan, some of its leading personalities and its armed forces, followed. It must be noted here (as it was on stage) that the current political crisis in Islamabad did somehow impact this event but the message sent out was that all here stand with Pakistan today and not with any one particular group. Sohail stressed that we all want peace and progress there. He also asked everyone to pray for the well-being and safety of the country.
After Sohail Shazad and Javaid Akhtar, the next person to address the audience was Kamran Malik, one of the main organizers of this event. He welcomed Dr Muhammad Khalid Ejaz the Consul/Head of Chancery at the Pakistan Consulate in Los Angeles and thanked everyone for coming to celebrate the 68 th Independence Day of Pakistan (if one includes the first). He revisited the humble beginnings of our country of origin and its achievements to date. He was followed by Bashir Choudhry who as President of the Pakistani American Association Sacramento welcomed Consul Dr Ejaz and left us with the thought that we should remain united.
Dr Ejaz spoke in Urdu and commended everyone for putting together such a fine event. He said that he was happy to see people far away from Pakistan remembering and honoring it in such a manner. He added that he had just one wish here today: to see the dream of Pakistan passed on to our children and the younger generation. He requested that we explain the meaning of Pakistan’s national anthem to our children born here. He added that it will be because of maintaining this connection that Pakistan can make even more progress. He said that the Pakistani anthem was in Persian so even the older folks might benefit from reading its translation! He thanked the Pakistani American Association, all the volunteers and the audience-participants here for making this event a resounding success. He also recommended that the community use the Consulate website as much as possible to make their requests through it, to improve its efficiency while catering to their needs, because the heavy volume of telephone calls cannot all be personally received.
The team that made this event possible (too many to name them all here) was next introduced on stage and they all received a well-deserved round of applause. Bilal Adenwala was recognized for his community service. There was also a giveaway later of Jadoo merchandise which was quite well done and all the sponsors were thanked and plaques given to prominent individuals for their valued contributions.
The entertainment segment was kicked off with Jazbah Junoon sung by a local youngster. But the night belonged to Bhangra and it just got better and better. Khurram Irfan started with his “Lahore Chaly O” and his version of the Punjabi Touch got the crowd really moving. And when Malkoo took over next, things got really energized. What a voice! Malkoo sang the kalam of Baba Farid with no music and inspired the old but it was the young that danced to his Kuryey Chak Dey through which he journeyed through Pakistan’s towns and cities. His latest Velayati Kuryen, Desi Boys and one of his most famous “Kala Jora” got many to dance. Malkoo proved that he could sure sing here.
Ali Haider provided a very entertaining finale. He was accompanied by the Apna Style Band whose opening of Dil Dil Pakistan was wonderful. Ali journeyed through his well selected singing bouquet here tonight with Dil Wale, Kunwara, Laila, Sajna, Sayyan and his own version of the Qalandar. His Chandni Raatein would have made the late Melody Queen Noor Jehan proud. Ali literally wore many hats that evening and often went off stage to join the audience. His “Purani Jeans” rekindled many memories and he closed with another Noor Jehan hit and his very popular Zalim Nazron Se.
To conclude, this was a very well planned and executed event with a very elaborate stage and winning sound system. Representatives of the Pakistan Association of San Francisco, the “Mother Ship” of our regional associations, also said a few words (their event was held on August 23 rd). Congratulations to everyone involved in planning and delivering a worthy celebration of Pakistan here.