Independence Day in San Francisco
August 2001 -
The largest annual gathering of Pakistanis in Northern
California (if not in all of the West Coast of the United States) took
place on Saturday, August 18, 2001 at the world famous Golden Gate Park in
San Francisco. The Pakistan
Association of San Francisco Bay Area hosted this event for our benefit as
once again thousands of people of Pakistani origin and their friends
traveled from a radius of over 200 miles to this international landmark,
in a City which some have described as one of the most beautiful in the
world. And if San Francisco is beautiful, the addition of the green and
white colors of Pakistan and the colors of the traditional attire of
Pakistani women and children added to enhance it. And for those of us who
made the 3 to 4 hour drive to this park (due to a 1 hour plus traffic
gridlock that had to be overcome at the Bay Bridge), the rendition of Poet
Allama Iqbal’s “Lab Pay Aati Hai Dua” (A Prayer comes to the Lips)
by a couple of youngsters and the events that followed made it all
While parking the car, which was in itself a major feat at the park and took another half a hour, I heard but could not witness the poetry and a call for unity by San Francisco’s very own Urdu phenomenon Javed Syed. A strong request for the solution of the Kashmir Dispute (between India and Pakistan) was also made during this time. A Kashmiri-Pakistani-American presides over the Pakistan Association of San Francisco this year so the theme of Kashmir remained prominent.
As this reporter finally made it to the stage, the very eloquent Poetess Noshi Jilani was busy enthralling the audience with her Urdu verses. In addition Syed Jahangir Hamdani’s made a moving speech and reminded everyone there that “Pakistan is here to stay”, and that it was achieved by the giving of lots of sacrifices. Hamdani Sahib also briefly went into the backdrop of Pakistan’s historically friendly relationship with the United States.
Emcee for the event Tashie Zaheer with assistance from Annie Akhtar and others filled in the voids but there were few such gaps as the musical group Asian Soundz opened up with a trip down memory lane with “Ko Ko Korina” a famous Pakistani song from the 1960’s. Singer Shamsher Ali followed with “Sohni Dharti” a National song that became very popular in Pakistan in the 1970’s and still retains quite a following.
He was followed by our very own community member Irfan who continues to improve his craft. Irfan and his group have helped many Pakistani events in this area. The night before he had been assisting with the Abrar (Billo Dey Ghar fame) show in Newark.
Janice Miller who was the main performer of the day really shook the park.
And when Janice started “Dil Dil Pakistan” a tune originated by The
Vital Signs, she had everyone’s attention. How this young lady (now
from) Texas does justice to Pakistani
songs with such accuracy remains a mystery, especially when she
does not speak the language or have any roots in our culture. Janice
followed by “Dupatta Mera Mal Mal Ka” and really brought the park down
(if that is possible) with the Punjabi song “Aa Ja Sohniay” (A Shazia
Manzoor original), and the Late Madam Noor Jahan’s “Sayonee Mera Mahi”
for those of us “old folks”.
“I thank very much for coming from all over Northern California to San Francisco to celebrate this occasion and I look forward to always share with you the level of power that you have helped me acquire as Mayor of this city. Thank you and god bless."
Dr. Saeed next introduced the new Pakistan Consul General in Los Angeles Raana Rahim . He said that South Asia has actually led the whole world in electing women to positions of power. Here we have one more eloquent voice on behalf of Pakistan.”
Raana Rahib first spoke in Urdu and congratulated everyone on Pakistan’s Independence Day and expressed her happiness for being here in San Francisco. She continued in English and congratulated all the people who made this event possible.
“In my opinion, you are the actual ambassadors of Pakistan in the United States. It is a matter of great pride for us in Pakistan to know that all of you are doing so well.” She added that “we have designated this year as “The Year of the Quaid”, and we will have major celebrations for the Father of the Nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah on the 25th of December.” She mentioned the Task Force formed under the leadership of Dr. Nasim Ashraf which includes a Peace Corps of young Pakistanis who will spend time in Pakistan to educate and help people there. She also delivered a message from President Musharraf on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day.
Janice Miller concluded the show with as much fanfare as she started and was given a warm farewell. On the way out this reporter met a lot of people who were very happy that they came. Thanks to the Pakistan Association of the San Francisco Bay Area officials from all of us for holding this very successful event. You bring honor to Pakistan. Inshallah, I hope to see you there again next year. But I cannot leave without the traditional conclusion.
In the past few years this reporter has asked Editors to dedicate this event to people who make us proud to be Pakistani. This year our natural choice is the Quaid-e-Azam,
the founder of Pakistan. But I believe that even he would not mind if we dedicate this event to two individuals who certainly have done their share to help our poor and destitute. So this year’s event and this report is dedicated to Maulana Sattar Edhi and his wife Bilquis Edhi.
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