Celebrating 70 Years of US-Pakistan Friendship at the Embassy in Washington
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Ambassador Aizaz A. Chaudhry and his wife hosted the Embassy Series for a delightful evening at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. Assisted by Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr Rizwan Saeed Sheikh; Military Attaché Brigadier Chaudhary Sarfraz Ali; their spouses and staff; Ambassador Chaudhry - with the message of “love and understanding”- extended a warm welcome to a large audience which included diplomats, government officials, academia, businessmen, students and Washingtonians from all walks of life.
“The most important thing is the occasion,” wrote Gary Tischler in the program notes for the concert which also marked the 70th Anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. “We celebrate it with a gift of music, a concert, a handshake, a conversation, and words over food and refreshment, introductions and stories in the interim between music,” continued Tischler.
Ustad Dilshad Ensemble - comprising Ustad Dilshad Khan and Ustad Summer playing violin, H. Kaiser (dhol player) with saxophone and flute, Idrees Nawas at the keyboard, Qasai Nawabi beating on the table and Aliyah Pandolfi reading Maulana Jalal ud din’s poetry – serenaded the eclectic audience in the majestic Embassy auditorium. Through his music and emotive style, Ustad Dilshad mesmerized the audience that felt distinct spirituality through bringing alive the timeless works of Amir Khusrow, Pir Waris Shah and Baba Buleh Shah. It was “dama dam mast qalandar” in every heart beat and every centimeter of the hall with a distinguished audience entertained by talented artists.
According to her bio, Princess Aliyah Pandolfi who read Rumi’s poetry, “created a global network of scientists, engineers, and artists who collaboratively create solutions to the world's most pressing problems.” While Aliyah performed, her husband Dr Pandolfi and daughter Kashmir enjoyed along with the rest of the audience.
World-travelled Ustad Dilshad comes from seven generations of musicians. His music talents include playing Western and Eastern classical music from all around the world. He is a five-time winner of the Amir Khusro Award. Ustad Dilshad has won the National Award (equivalent to the U.S. Grammy Award) and President Award.
Ms Anne Howard-Tristani, niece of late US Vice President Hubert Humphrey, briefly addressed the audience and introduced the twenty plus Humphrey Fellows a number of whom were from Pakistan. “Since 1978, more than 4,600 Fellows from 157 countries have participated in the program (started by former US President Jimmy Carter). More than 40 universities have hosted the Fellows for their year of study,” she informed the audience and explained the role these mid-career professionals have played in changing lives and making a difference in their home countries.
Dr Riaz Haider, retired Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University, past President, The American Heart Association, Nation's Capital Affiliate and Board Member, International Students House for over twenty-five years expressed his feelings as “a very enjoyable evening at the Pakistan embassy… It was also good to meet friends such as Ann Howard, Jerome Barry and others, all getting together for such a noble cause.”
Embassy Series Founder Jerome Barry said that “the Ambassador was very kind and appreciative and the people had a great time.” He was accompanied by his beautiful wife Lisette Barry, daughter Daniella – in Pakistani clothes – and a very engaged grandson.
Dr Koffi Siliadini - a Humphrey Fellow from Togo remarked: "I really appreciated both the concert and the buffet. Sufi music was a total discovery for me and I enjoyed the creativeness and the passion of musicians. Thanks for that extraordinary moment!”
While enjoying the delicious buffet, Ambassador (retired) Edward B. O’Donnell engaged in conversation about Sufism and its origins. This enlightening conversation achieved the objectives outlined by the concert.
Morris Simon, a world traveler who also worked for the World Bank in a prior life, commented that “the opportunity to photograph an animated performer, a receptive audience colorful in local dress, who allowed taking numerous photographs of their excitement of the playing by Ustad Dilshad. The opportunity to take more than 260 photos during the performance, was exciting, fun and rewarding with the results posted on www.embassyseries.org, the Embassy Series Facebook page”
A magnificent banner – with the Statue of Liberty and Minar-e-Pakistan wrapped within the Crescent and the Star - highlighted US-Pakistan friendship ties linked in a bow, in the background. So it was befitting that charming musician Dilshad Khan was also a bow tied with stylish cufflinks “Ustad” – master - of his profession.
Earlier in the week, the World Affairs Council DC hosted Ambassador Chaudhry at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington for a discussion with former Congressman Jim Moran. During his remarks, Ambassador Chaudhry informed the audience about the changing realities on the ground in Pakistan saying “optimism is in the air.” He fielded questions from the audience by presenting the recent positive developments in the country. Commenting on a question on Kashmir, former Congressman Moran - who has enjoyed strong support from the Pakistani community in his district - said that he personally believed in the plebiscite.
Pakistan Embassy also hosted Washington area residents and visitors to an open house during the annual “Around the World Embassy Tour 2017” – organized by Cultural Tourism DC coordinated by Embassy Liaison, Jan Du Plain. Additionally, Pakistan’s flag continued to greet visitors this week in the lobby of the National Press Club in Washington, DC.