Sacramento Pakistani Community Bids Farewell to Dr Khalid Ejaz
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Dr Muhammad Khalid Ejaz has held the position of Consul/Head of Chancery at the Pakistan Consulate in Los Angeles, California for a number of years. And during this time he has had the opportunity to travel all over the western United States to help the Pakistani-American community with all kinds of issues, be it National Identity Cards, Passports, Visas and a whole lot more. And whenever he could, Dr Sahib did try to make that extra effort for those that he could help. And most of all over the years, whether one’s requirement was fulfilled or not, he always came across as a person with a pleasant disposition. Sympathetic and helpful, he has made quite a few friends in the Sacramento area especially during the Bi-Annual Visa camps that the Consulate held in Northern California. And now that he is leaving his post, it was only befitting that a local farewell party was arranged.
A couple of hundred people gathered at the Valley Oak Ballroom in Elk Grove with a nice send-off for Dr Ejaz arranged by the Pakistani-American Association of Sacramento on Saturday, January 10, 2015. It was a festive evening with great food and a family atmosphere as the event also turned out to be the first appearance of the new Consul General of Pakistan in Los Angeles, Hamid Asghar Khan. Pakistanis in Sacramento are a traditional bunch, a large number originating from Faisalabad (old Lyallpur) and are well known for their hospitality which was hopefully something that both guests had an opportunity to experience here.
The evening started with event emcee Naeem Syed calling everyone’s attention and providing a little background on this evening’s chief guest. He said that Dr Khalid Ejaz was leaving us after more than five years in Los Angeles and was returning to Pakistan to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a Director there. He then invited Kamran Malik who is known for his many activities in Sacramento, especially his devotion to the game of cricket. Kamran thanked Khalid Ejaz for always accepting invitations from the Sacramento Pakistan community and helping members with his extra effort. He also revisited the Pakistan Day Cricket Tournament that was held in the Sacramento area last spring which over 500 people attended while it hosted many teams from all over California. The Elk Grove Cricket Club next presented a memento of appreciation with the help of Dr Wajahat to the chief guest on behalf of its members.
Rashid Ahmad, another icon of the Sacramento Pakistani community, first introduced Shabbir Khan, an elected official from San Joaquin County. He said that this community in Sacramento is the oldest community of Pakistanis in USA. We have been here for 11 decades and we are no longer foreigners, he added. He said that a Muslim leader of India’s Independence Movement is buried here. Sacramento also has one of the oldest mosques in this country (with its current leader Imam Qasmi present here). It is also a very patriotic community which has supported Pakistan during any adversity, he said. Many top leaders of Pakistan have visited here including Prime Ministers and Presidents. He praised Dr Khalid Ejaz and said that he made a home here in our hearts. He also took the opportunity to briefly highlight the growing cooperative relationship with the University of California, Davis and Pakistan, which Dr Ejaz helped to facilitate.
Dr Thomas L. Rost, Professor Emeritus, Plant Biology, Special Assistant, International Programs, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences University of California, Davis also briefly addressed the gathering and highlighted a USAID program that would soon be bringing 14 scholars from Pakistan to the United States. More will be reported on this topic and more as the relationship between institutions in Pakistan and UC Davis develops further, but for now it was good to learn that many of these visiting scholars are going to be Pakistani women.
Pakistani American Association President Bashir Choudhry next addressed the gathering. He praised the Greater Sacramento Pakistani community and said he loved it as much as Pakistan. Dr Khalid Ejaz started too many good things, he said. Besides interacting with local officials, he visited our people in hospitals and even the Department of Corrections to help Pakistanis in trouble. “Personally I am sad that I am losing a good friend,” he said. "Dr Sahib, we will miss you and wish you good luck in Pakistan,” he added. Another memento of appreciation was presented to Dr Ejaz, this time from the Pakistani American Association of Sacramento following Bashir Sahib’s speech.
Sabir Ahmed also shared his observations about Dr Khalid Ejaz who himself received a standing ovation as he offered some words of thanks. He was very emotional and genuinely moved by the tribute accorded to him. He said that he was honored, and thanked Allah (SWT) for this affection.
The new Consul General of Pakistan in Los Angeles Hamid Asghar Khan next addressed the community. He was extremely articulate in his delivery and expressed his happiness on attending this gathering. He said that he did not know that this was the oldest Pakistani community in the United States. He added that the Sacramento Downtown Mosque and the graveyard contain a lot of history and that we must find out a way of disseminating this information back home in Pakistan and also in Washington DC. He also thanked the community for holding a recent vigil for the victims of the terrorist attack in Peshawar. He said that our country today is going through very difficult times and as patriotic Pakistanis even though some have been living here for 30 or 40 years, the fact that you come together at a time like this sends out a very good signal not only to the people back home but also to the broader community in which you live here. He also said that the fact that we have come together here to honor his colleague Dr Khalid Ejaz speaks a lot about you. He praised the community cricket effort and asked for its continuation. He also added his full agreement to the qualities revealed about Dr Ejaz this evening.
In the end a question-and-answer session was held during which some important issues were raised by members of the community including Asif Sattar, Durriya Syed and Imam Qasmi.