Pakistan Defense Day Celebrated in San Francisco Bay Area
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Pakistan Defense Day was celebrated in San Francisco Bay Area on September 8, 2016. A colorful function was held to celebrate the 50th Defense Day at the Chandni Restaurant, Fremont/Newark. Pakistan Air Force Retired Officers' Association (PAFROA) sponsored the event which was attended by a large number of retired Pakistan Army and Air Force officers.
It was the first time that the Pakistan Defense Day was celebrated in the Bay Area thanks to the initiative and enterprise of several military officials and their children who have moved in the area.
Pakistan Defense Day is celebrated every year on September 6. It was on the 6th of September in 1965 when the Indian forces crossed the international border in the darkness of night and attacked the Western Wing of Pakistan but the vigilant armed forces, solidly backed by the nation, foiled the Indian designs.
The Defense Day is celebrated to commemorate the sacrifices of fallen heroes of the Pakistani armed forces during the 1965 war.
The main feature of the Pakistan Defense Day event was a televised address by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal SohailAman. He said that Pakistan Air Force has a sound history of demonstrating valor, gallantry and professional excellence in the defense of the motherland.
The Chief of Air Staff expressed happiness on the founding of the North America Chapter of PAFROA and informed that he would visit the Bay Area to meet its members during his upcoming visit to the USA in 2017.
After the national anthem was played, entrepreneur Syed Sarwat rendered taranas. Mrs Debra Muazam Shaikh (former Radio Pakistan artist) captivated the audience by singing a popular millinaghma ‘SohnyDharti Allah Rakh-khe’. She also entertained the audience with quite a few popular songs.
The audience was thrilled by the melodious performance of military officials. Air Vice Marshall Haider Iqbal (from Islamabad), Wing Commander AbulIkram, Major Arif Rizvi, Brig Feroz Khan (from Monterey) Kaleem Rahman (from Atlanta) and Mir Akbar Panni were followed by Group Captain Nasir Khan in making the event a memorable musical evening.
Earlier, President PAFROA welcomed the guests on behalf of the Pakistan Air Force Retired Officers' Association. Major Zia ur Rahman and Brig Feroz Khan recalled the sacrifices of the military martyrs.
The Military officials attending the event included:
Air Vice Marshal Iqbal Haider (from Islamabad), Air Commodore Hashim Jafri (San Ramon), Air Commodore N. D. Qureshi (Milpitas), Group Captain Nasir H. Khan (Santa Clara), Group Captain MaqsoodQadir (Santa Rosa), Wing Commander SajjadHyder (Fremont), Wing Commander Khalid Tamton (Fresno), Squadron Leader Muazam Shaikh (Redwood City), Squadron Leader MunirAzam (Sacramento), Squadron Leader Idrees Hussain (Karachi), Squadron Leader RaheelBodla (Fremont).
The attendees also included: Brigadiers Syed Khaliq and Feroz Khan, Majors Ashraf Neem, Arif Rizvi, Feroz Naqvi, Mashkoor and Zia ur Rahman.
Group Captain Nasir Khan, the main spirit behind the Pakistan Defense Day function, thanked all the guests for making the event successful. He particularly thanked Syed Sarwat and MuznaSarwat for their cooperation in making this event possible. The event was recorded by Dunya TV and telecast in Pakistan on Sept. 9, 2016.
Ambassador Ahmed Joins Distinguished Interfaith Roundtable with State Department Delegation from Pakistan & Afghanistan
Washington, DC: On the morning of Friday, September 9, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed and team members DrAminehHoti and Patrick Burnett, joined a distinguished roundtable of Greater Washington interfaith leaders at the Church House of the National Cathedral to welcome and speak with five visitors from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The visitors are touring the US as part of the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, conducted under the auspices of the Meridian International Center. The purpose for the visit of these distinguished government officials and scholars is to explore “religious dialogue influencing foreign policy” as part of a State Department Sub-Regional Project for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The visiting delegation took the opportunity during this two-hour closed-door session to explore some of the challenges American interfaith leaders have faced in working to build bridges between different faith communities, particularly in the years since 9/11, and seek advice on how to overcome some of the great obstacles individuals and communities face in trying to come together and overcome differences.
Ambassador Ahmed, hailing from Pakistan and having worked extensively as a Commissioner in the Tribal Areas, was able in particular to poignantly illustrate to the delegation the importance of knowledge and understanding, as well as the importance of reaching out directly to both leaders and community members in order to build bridges. He made a strong plea to the Pakistani and Afghan leaders at the roundtable to not fall into the trap of many American Muslim leaders immediately following 9/11, who frequently echoed the hollow phrase, “Islam is a religion of peace,” as people were cynical and did not believe it to be so in light of the attacks. Fifteen years since 9/11, Ahmed emphasized that the challenge remains for Muslims to convince the world that their religion is one of peace and for the world not to indulge in Islamophobia – issues that remain at the fore of global affairs today.
Dr Ahmed also stressed the importance of overcoming differences within one’s community and making a stand against those oppressed groups in their own society, while also emphasizing to the delegation the importance of having their voices heard both as interfaith leaders and as ambassadors of Pakistan and Afghanistan in a time when so many in the West grossly misunderstand the politics, culture, and society of these two nations. Without greater understanding in the West, Dr Ahmed argued that it would continue to be difficult for American Muslims to make a strong case for themselves.
Following the roundtable conversation, the visiting delegation took a detailed tour of the National Cathedral and had a chance to learn more about Christianity, particularly the Episcopalian denomination. In the coming weeks, the visiting delegation will be traveling around the US further exploring how American interfaith practices are conducted.
The program was facilitated by Rev. Carol Flett, the Interreligious Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and former Interfaith Programs Coordinator at the National Cathedral. The Washington-based delegation, in addition to Ambassador Ahmed and Islamabad-based DrHoti, included Rabbi Bruce Lustig of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Ann Korky, a retired US Foreign Service officer and active lay member of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and Alan Ronkin, the Regional Director for the Washington office of the American Jewish Committee. Representing the delegation from Afghanistan and Pakistan were Mr Sayed MuzammelFerqat, the Director of the Secretariat of Afghanistan Moderation Center; DrNoorullahKawsar, the Chief Editor, of Esteqamat (monthly) and a Lecturer at the Sayed Jamaludin Institute of Higher Studies; Professor Junaid Iqbal, a Religious Scholar and a Senior Anchorman for A Plus TV, Dr Mohammed Khan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at Iqra University and Visiting Faculty at National Defense University Islamabad, and Professor Khurshid Ahmad, a Lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the University of Peshawar.