Sacramento Celebrates Pakistan’s 70 Years with a Great Deal of Fervor
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Pakistani American Association of Sacramento (PAAS) is possibly the oldest community organization representing people of Pakistani origin in the United States. Granted that the organization has had changes and periods of dormancy along the way, but is has somehow always bounced back and continues to hold important Pakistan related events as often as possible. This time once again it did not disappoint as a grand M
ela (festival) was held to celebrate Pakistan’s 71st Independence Day (counting the first) at the Cesar E. Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento on August 12, 2017 with over a thousand people in attendance.
People from Punjab and the Hindko speaking Attock area of Pakistan arrived here in this part of California in the early 1900’s and some families have roots in this region that go back over 100 years. And these pioneers along with new arrivals have made the Pakistani-American community of this area both visible and socially active.
After a long period of socializing and consuming Pakistani (and Middle Eastern) food, including freshly made chaat and Kulfi (from Haveli Restaurant), jalebi and pakoras (from A1), the proceedings began with our American-born Pakistani youth in the forefront and a traditional Islamic invocation. A fine rendition of both the American and Pakistani national anthems followed during which the now sizeable audience participated in singing. The team of kids on stage donned in the green and white colors of Pakistan did a fine job representing their community. A short presentation of a girl speaking as Malala Yousafzai and a young boy (fake beard and all) presenting himself as the late Sattar Edhi was widely appreciated. And the bizarre politics of Pakistan appeared on stage with the kids enacting a short musical skit on the PML-N, the PTI of Imran Khan and the PPP led by Asif Zardari. Although there may have been intent to represent all three of Pakistan’s major political parties here, it did not escape notice that “Imran Khan” got the most air time! And an appearance by The Quaid-i-Azam, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, and Allama Iqbal on stage (kids dressed up) added grace to the occasion.
As the evening progressed Sohail DJ took over as emcee and conducted a quiz program for the audience soon after. He also proceeded to introduce PAAS officials who gathered on stage for a well-deserved recognition. PAAS President Bashir Choudry also made a short speech during which he pointed out that we all now have an “American-Pakistani” emerging identity in the region which is contributing a great deal to America. It should be noted that the Stars and Stripes flew prominently on stage here along with the green and white flag of Pakistan throughout the evening.
The last feature of the occasion was the entertainment segment which started off with Jaspinder Raina who entertained us with some fine Punjabi songs, including some made famous by Madam Noor Jehan. And last but not least, the headliner all the way from Pakistan, Nadeem Abbas Lonewala, who began his performance with a fine rendition of the Pakistani national anthem followed by numerous Urdu and Punjabi songs.
During an entertainment interval it was great to witness a candlelight and cell phone tribute to two Pakistanis who touched the suffering of poor people in their own unique ways. The late Sattar Edhi and the recently departed Dr Ruth Pfau were both paid their due respects in a very dignified way at this event and the inclusion of the Pakistani community children in the process was an added plus. They need such role models to follow and to be proud of.
In conclusion, the sponsors of this event need to be acknowledged. Ch. Bashir - Comprehensive Security, - Javaid Akhtar - Welcome Insurance, Ch. Siddique - Speed Bird, Qamar Ashraf - Q’s Entertainment, Khalid Mehmood – Wienerschnitzel, and Asif Sattar - Wayback Burgers all need to be commended for their support. But in the end it was the people who came to celebrate the 70th birthday of their country of origin that made this event a success. These American-Pakistanis rock!