Pakistan Independence Day 2015 Celebrated in Silicon Valley
By Riaz Haq
Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley and wider San Francisco Bay Area celebrated Pakistan's 69th Independence Day this year with several events in different cities and communities in the region. I was invited to speak at the Pakistan flag-raising event at Milpitas City Hall. The event was organized by Pakistani-American Cultural Center. It was attended by the city mayor, a city councilwoman and hundreds of Pakistani-Americans , including women and children. Besides speeches, the event featured Pakistani music, poetry, food and colorful outfits with a lot of green visible everywhere.
The Milpitas event began with the raising of Pakistani and American flags followed by the singing of the two national anthems. Mr Asghar Aboobaker, the founder of Pakistani-American Cultural Center (PACC-CA) in Silicon Valley, talked briefly about Pakistan's founder Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the creation of Pakistan followed by an introduction of the PACC and the distinguished guests in attendance.
Next speaker was Riaz Haq who focused on the contributions of the Pakistani-American community in Silicon Valley in terms of technology and entrepreneurship. He described the importance of the August 14 date for both Americans and Pakistanis. Pakistan emerged as a new independent nation on this date in 1947; the Japanese surrendered to the American forces two years earlier on this date. Both events saw a lot of blood spilled. "It's time for celebration but it's also a time for reflection", he said.
Riaz Haq described how the Valley looked 35 years ago when he arrived by talking about his own personal story of the development of the Intel 80386 processor. The PC Magazine published a picture of the 80386 design team with 6 design engineers - all except Riaz Haq - were white. The Valley has changed so dramatically since then that the minorities have now become the majority .
Riaz Haq talked about the role of Pakistani-Americans in driving Moore's Law (number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months) to support the exponential growth in the compute power of the AI machines to enable the "Second Machine Revolution". He specifically mentioned several public companies founded by Pakistani-Americans: Align Technology (using 3D imaging/printing "Invisalign" braces for orthodontics), Chegg (online textbook rental) , Cavium (security processors) and Fireeye (cloud security) . In addition, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of companies founded by Pakistanis which have been acquired by larger tech firms for their technology.
The fact that Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans have "arrived" is confirmed by HBO series "Silicon Valley" that features a Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani playing a Pakistani-American technology entrepreneur.
A patriotic Pakistani-American dressed in a green outfit with crescent and star sang Dil Dil Pakistan. It was followed by poetry and the serving of Pakistani food.
Pakistani-Americans numbering in tens of thousands in Silicon Valley joined the Pakistanis this Aug 14 in the home country to celebrate the national Independence Day with great enthusiasm and deep fervor. Here's a video of Riaz Haq's speech at the event: