Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NED Convention 2011: Glitz, Glamour, and a lot of Substance

It has become an annual pilgrimage, an event that draws NED University graduates from all over North American and a few even from as far as the UAE and the land of their alma mater. The event is called the NED Convention and it rotates around the US cities. This year's annual NED Convention was arranged by the NED Alumni Association of Tri-State and was held at the Hilton Parsippany in New Jersey, October 7 through 9.

Whereas the convention festivities began Friday night, on the arrival of most of the out-of-town attendees, and ended Sunday morning, the main program was on Saturday. On Saturday the morning session provided opportunities to discuss new ideas, reaffirm identities, and understand how life can be made more meaningful.

Salman Siddiqui, founder of Leo Sunergy, a solar energy company, spoke on the importance of using renewable energy sources. Siddiqui proposed installing a 2.3 MW photovoltaic plant at the NED University to make the institute energy independent.

A panel comprising of Husam Ahmed, Khalid Mallick, Salman Siddiqui, and Safwan Shah discussed the 'Challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship.' The discussion was moderated by Tanweer Mallick.

Dr. Syed Firasat Ali, ex-Mechanical Engineering professor at the NED University, currently teaching at the Tuskegee University, Alabama, spoke on the role of NED alumni in addressing contemporary aspects of their professions.

A discussion on 'NEDians as a force of change in social and political arena' conducted by Amir-ul-Islam, President and CEO of Jersey Precast Corporation, had Akbar Ansari of Procter & Gamble, Anwer Hasan of Maryland Higher Education Commission, Abul Islam of AI Engineers, and Khalid Mansoor of Universal Construction Resources as the discussants.

Evening keynote at the NED Convention 2011 was given by Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon. Ambassador Haroon's message was bold and challenging. He said the US was going through uncertain times--Pakistan too was going through rough times; when uncertainly ruled everywhere, Pakistani-Americans should think about going back to their country of origin, to build their fortunes while building their country.

Ashraf Habibullah is no ordinary speaker. This NED graduate and CEO of Computers & Structures, Inc., takes you back to yonder years by describing the environment of the old NED campus, by humorously reminding you of the basic needs you had in your college days, and by singing TV commercials and popular songs of that era. Ashraf Habibullah's speech at the convention was as entertaining as a convention speech can possibly be.

Behind every annual NED convention go ungodly hours of meticulous planning and days of hard work put by an army of volunteers. At the NED Convention 2011, recognition awards were given to Arshad Rizvi, Shakeel Ahmed, Anas Hashmi, Mubbashir Rahman, Rashid Ali Baig, Amir-ul-Islam, Tanweer Mallick, and several other people whose dedication and hard work made the Parsippany convention a successful program.

It doesn't happen often that a thespian keeps redefining himself to remain in demand as he progresses through years. Actors should learn from Zia Mohyeddin how to be successful at such a transformation. Turning 80 in a couple of years, this theater and film actor of yesteryears now uses his deep theatrical voice to recite fine Urdu literature and enthrall crowds. At the NED Convention 2011, Zia Mohyeddin did something new: besides reading masterpieces of known writers, Mohyeddin read a piece he himself wrote.

People running the show at the NED Convention 2011 were mostly graduates from the 70s and the 80s. It was logical for them to bring singers who were popular in those decades. Besides local artists who sang old songs, two singers who can arguably be called the pioneers of pop music in Pakistan gave enchanting performance at the convention. Muhammad Ali Shehki has resurfaced on the Pakistani music scene after a gap of many years. At the Convention 2011, Shehki sang a number of his memorable songs and made people dance in joy. If Alamgir looks years younger than his age--and despite his failed kidneys--it is for a very good reason: he tremendously enjoys what he does; while performing on the stage, Alamgir sings and dances and gets totally absorbed in the magic he creates. Alamgir's performance at the convention included his popular songs requested by the audience, and a mesmerizing 'Jugni' to end the program.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Subversive poetry in a rebellious atmosphere

Take a poet regarded as the master of resistance poetry and bring his poems to the audience of a university known for a tradition of rebellion and you would see sparks--resulting from the sheer energy of the event. 'Guftugu: Faiz Ahmed Faiz, A Centennial Celebration' arranged by the Berkeley Urdu & Pakistan Initiatives of the Center for South Asia Studies, featuring Faiz's daughter Salima Hashmi, was indeed such an electrifying program.
In Guftugu, held on September 25, at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley, Salima Hashmi gave two presentations. In her first appearance Ms. Hashmi answered Professor Saba Mahmood's questions and provided rare insights into the day-to-day life of her legendary father. In her second presentation, Salima Hashmi used slides to explain how art produced by various South Asian artists has been influenced by Faiz's poetry.
Salima Hashmi described Faiz as a very easygoing father; "we children never took him seriously." Hashmi said it was her mother who would make sure the children were going to school on time and were studying. As a child Salima Hashmi would fake headaches and stomachaches to skip school. When Hashmi would make such an excuse, her mother would ask Hashmi to talk to the father, expecting a reprimand from the dad. When Hashmi would tell her father she did not want to go to school, he would comfortably agree that she should not go to school if she did not want to. On other occasions, if she would tell her father she had failed a math test, he would say, "That's fine. I too used to fail math tests."
Salima Hashmi said when a poem would come to his father, he would start humming and would go out for a walk, typically to the Lawrence Garden. When Faiz would return home his relaxed demeanor would indicate to everyone in the household that the poem had been completed.
Salima Hashmi described her father as a humanist who saw people as human beings, beyond their national and other parochial affiliations.
In her other presentation Hashmi elaborated on the influence of her father's poetry on visual art produced in South Asia: from Sadequain's elongated, cactus like human depictions accompanied by Faiz's couplets to works infused by Faiz's poetic themes created by contemporary artists like Naiza Khan, Nalini Malani, Anwar Saeed, Imran Qureshi, and others.
The program organized by a committee comprising of Sanchita Saxena, Raka Ray, Puneeta Kala, Behnaz Raufi, Umair Khan, Saba Mahmood, Munis Faruqui, Adnan Malik, Nosheen Ali, and others was moderated by Munis Faruqui. Besides Raka Ray, Chair, Center for South Asia Studies; Anthony Cascardi, Dean of Arts & Humanities; Qamar Jail, Lecturer in Urdu; and A. Sean Pue of Michigan State University also spoke at the event.
The program included recitation of Faiz's poetry, with and without music. Anil Chopra and Hamida Banu Chopra read Faiz's poems. Tashie Zaheer read his poetic tribute to Faiz.
'Dasht e Tanhai' was sung by Anupama Chandratreya. Irum Musharraf sang 'Mujhse pehli si Mohabbat'; she was accompanied by JahanZeb Sherwani on guitar. The last recitation was of Faiz's masterpiece 'Hum Dekhenge' by Nandita Kala Dabral--poetry so powerful, words so magical, rhythm so enchanting, the poem gives you goosebumps and brings tears to your eyes. And it was a befitting ending to the program, as that prophetic poem epitomizes the hopes and aspirations of the people of South Asia, set in the context of class struggle--the real struggle that the independence in 1947 should have been about, a struggle that time and again has been hijacked by opportunists only to be shamefully framed within the confines of ethnic, religious, regional, and linguistic parameters.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ten years of violence

San Francisco Bay Area being a haven for peace movements hosted a plethora of anti-war programs on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. One such event organized by the Friends of South Asia (FOSA) and held at the San Francisco Public Library's Koret Auditorium was dubbed ' Ten Years after 911: A South Asian Reaction.' The program started with a screening of a fifteen minutes long compilation--put together by Saqib Mausoof, the chief organizer of the event-- of video excerpts from various films made on the themes of extremism (Kala Pul), identity crises of Muslim immigrants and their US-born children (Domestic Crusaders), entrapment (The FBI's Jihad), drone attacks (Silent Screams), Afghanistan war (Afghans for Peace), and understanding the growing anti-American feelings in Pakistan (Wide Angle on Pakistan).
Various aspects of 9/11 and the continuing violence and hatred it has unleashed were discussed by a panel comprising of Veena Dubal (Staff Attorney at the Asian Law Caucus), Roshni Rustomji-Kerns (writer, Professor Emerita, Sonoma State University), Dr. Maheen Mausoof Adamson (Director of Research, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, VA Palo Alto), Yasmin Qureshi (writer and activist), and Fariba Nawa (Afghan-American journalist). The panel was moderated by Sharon Sobotta (Director, Women’s Resource Center, St Mary’s College).
Eminent Bay Area civil rights activist and lawyer Veena Dubal analyzed in great detail the aggressive role FBI has played in post 9/11 USA. Commenting on FBI's growing domestic surveillance network, Dubal said going after the crime was no longer a retrospective activity for the FBI. She said that the new laws have changed the orientation of the law enforcement agencies and now everybody wants to be James Bond.

Ms. Dubal is certainly not the only critic of the FBI. Civil liberties advocates all over the nation have complained of the almost free hand being given to the spy agency. Commenting on the high profile arrests FBI has been making in thwarting potential terrorist attacks, a recent BBC report claimed that the FBI does not only discover terrorist cells, it creates them. The same report explained FBI's modus operandi in cracking terrorist cells: FBI informants recruit gullible Muslims, buy them fake weapons and explosives, offer financial rewards if they carry out terrorist attacks, and finally arrest them for plotting terrorist operations. FBI critics believe that if the public sentiment was not so saturated with Islamophobia in post 9/11 USA, most courts would throw out these 'terrorist cell' cases as mere acts of entrapment by the FBI.

Veena Dubal claimed the annual review of the FBI agents includes whether or not an agent has been able to recruit informants in the community. People who are interviewed by the FBI are asked if they would like to act as informants and in many cases are threatened if they decline. She narrated one incident in which a person refusing to become an FBI informant was punished by being put on a no-fly list.

Veena Dubal said as an attorney she advises her clients not to talk to the FBI agents because of two reasons. First, the FBI agents have been enabled by guidelines to lie to individuals, and second, any misrepresentation of information given to an agent can be viewed as lying which is punishable by law.

Dubal said the FBI is not happy with civil liberties lawyers like herself. In one encounter with the FBI Dubal was asked to become a partner with the Bureau. When Dubal politely refused she was told many community organizations are partners with the agency-- FBI considers Muslim Advocates and the Sikh Coalition to be its partners.

Listening to Fariba Nawa you would be justified to wonder if all Afghan-Americans are as confused about the US involvement in Afghanistan as Nawa is. Nawa liked US removing the Taliban from power; she does not like the US occupation, but is afraid Taliban would again take control of Afghanistan if the US leaves.
"What has changed for the Afghan American community is that many of them are going back. We go back, we live there, we work there as translators. A lot of people have become richer from the contracts the US government is handing out . You will hear from my community saying that we are happy that the US intervention occurred. What we had before, with Taliban, was not an option.
"During the Taliban rule women could not go out, could not work, could not do many things. But we at least knew our children were safe because bombs and rockets were not raining on us. Now (under American occupation) we are free to do things but we don't feel secure to leave the house, neither do our children, neither do our husbands.
"If you do a survey in Afghanistan and ask people if the US should leave and the combat mission to stop, most people would say, No. But they would give conditions for it, and there is a reason why. We have very pesky neighbors like Pakistan, Iran, and former Soviet republics who have historically used Afghanistan as a pawn and will continue to do so.
"I think a lot of good has come out of it (the American intervention) but not for the long term. War is not a long-term solution--we need a political solution. "
Yasmin Qureshi said that as a Muslim woman, growing up in India, she always felt her family was seen with suspicion and that was the reason she relocated to the US. But after the 9/11 attacks she saw the same kind of mistrust about her community from fellow Americans. She said she has learned to fight back.
Maheen Mausoof Adamson said after 911, it has been a constant battle to be an observant Muslim without being labeled as a fundamentalist. "There is a difference between learning the fundamentals of Islam, and being a fundamentalist."
Sharing with the audience her experiences as the Director of Research, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, VA Palo Alto, Adamson said she sees a lot of veterans coming back with Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) along with traumatic brain injury. Being far away from the battleground, far removed from the people who get killed, she said she is "seeing the impact of war on people who are pulling the trigger. They are paying a heavy price."
Adamson described how young people, who believe they need to fight for their country are suddenly taken out of their nice environments in the US and sent to Iraq and Afghanistan; they take part in combat operations and one day come back to the 'sanitary environment', without going through any acclimatization. They are asked to carry on with their lives as before. But now things are different for them. They have seen war and have been exposed to a lot of bad things.
Discussing an issue not widely known, Adamson said, "American female soldiers have been sexually abused in military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are afraid to go to the bathroom at night because they know that they would get abused or get raped. " Adamson said quite a few female soldiers develop urinary tract infection because of not being able to go to the bathroom at night--many develop PTSD from this trauma.
Adamson said she is also witnessing cases of domestic violence that are related to PTSD. In one instance, wife of a patient confided in her how every night the veteran would take her to the bathtub, tie her up and beat her silly--he would then cry and would say he did not know what he was doing.
Roshni Rustomji-Kerns said the terrorist attacks of 911 did not shock her. What surprised her was people's reaction to the attacks. "Why is everybody so shocked by this?" she asked, "The shock should be why it (violence) is still going on."
Rustomji-Kerns said the 911 attacks gave way for racism to come out. On the need for people to understand each other she thought the challenge was, "How do we talk to people who are not in the same choir we are in."
FOSA's commemorative program was in part group's seventh annual literary evening. In the literary readings part of the program Dr. Khawaja Ashraf (travelogue writer, Urdu novelist, writing as K Ashraf), Maryam Turab (Urdu columnist), Saqib Mausoof (writer and filmmaker), and Roshni Rustomji-Kerns read their writings related to the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
Maryam Turab's short Urdu article was on her thoughts as a Pakistani-American woman on the 911 attacks and the bloodshed that has followed, and on her frustration that on September 11, 2001 a small group of people hijacked Islam and defined it to the world.
Dr. K Ashraf's Urdu article explained how, after the 911 terrorist attacks, US citizens are made to choose between security and freedom--that peace can only be restored when people all over the world would feel free and secure.
Saqib Mausoof called his causerie a personal catharsis. The piece was about events and popular discourse shaping the thoughts of a Pakistani immigrant in the US.
Roshni Rustomji-Kern's essay was on the horrors of wars she has seen from her childhood. "Stop glorifying wars. Instead of processions and parades, we should have days of mourning shared by everyone...victims and victimizers."
In the Q&A session there was a lot of interest in understanding Fariba Nawa's point of view--and for a good reason. In anti-war discussions you don't normally hear people favoring war.
" Anti-war people come up to me and say, 'Sorry, we are bombing your country; we are doing terrible things to Afghans.' Well, go to Afghanistan and they will welcome you."
She acknowledged the rural-urban divide in Afghanistan and thought if a survey was done in Afghanistan, people living in urban centers would favor US occupation whereas Afghanistan's rural population and especially those living in the South would like the US to be out.
She was of the view that till 2005 US involvement in Afghanistan was viewed favorably by most Afghans. "What we are seeing now is a combination of many things. One is the corruption of the Afghan government...a very big factor in the success of the insurgency. In the beginning the insurgency was not successful in the North at all, but now it is.
"If the US leaves, what is going to happen? A civil war is inevitable. I would like more discussion about a peace keeping mission in Afghanistan.
At the crux of the matter is the idea of a group of people (government) ruling over a country, how a decision is made about who would rule the country, and if certain communities do not agree with the government and the laws they are forced to live under, what should they do. Is war the only way to remove an oppressive government? Hardcore anti-war advocates would strongly disagree. A parallel argument can be found in the debate over capital punishment. People who oppose capital punishment argue that a person is much more than the crime that person has committed and is being punished for; killing a person as a revenge for a criminal act is killing all the possibilities that individual holds. War is a form of capital punishment--on a much larger scale, with more indiscriminate killings. How can war be justified?
But then what do you do with dictators, unpopular governments? How do you rescue people from juntas that grab power through undemocratic means? It behooves peaceniks to provide an answer to the people of Afghanistan.
Complete audio recording of the program is here:

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Ten Years after 911, A South Asian Reaction

It has been ten years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the world has drastically changed in these ten years.

Unlike other acts of terrorism, the 9/11 attacks were a TV sensation--it was the most horrible reality show one could ever watch. Live telecast of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center and the subsequent collapse of the two towers were viewed by millions of people all over the world. Though the western news agencies and the Bush administration were quick to put the blame of the 911 attacks on Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda organization, conspiracy theorists kept coming up with imaginative ideas to 'better' explain the attacks. In 2002, after a lot of public outcry, US Congress put together a commission to independently investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A comprehensive report prepared by the 9-11 Commission laid many of the wild theories to rest. The 567 pages long report goes in great detail about the terrorist attacks and in providing 'evidence'--most of it coming from Khalid Sheikh Mohammad's testimonies--that 9/11 attacks were indeed planned and funded by Al-Qaeda. Some would argue that on 9-11, the US paid an unfortunate price for the destruction of the USSR--the CIA-created Jihad network came back to bite the hand that once fed it.

Shortly after the 911 terrorist attacks, letters containing Anthrax spores were found in envelopes mailed to several media outlets and to two senators. The note enclosed with each letter read, 'Death to America. Allah is Great.' The anthrax attacks created a media frenzy and the attacks' connection to Al-Qaeda and the 'fundamentalist Muslims' was obvious to many. Ten years after the Anthrax attacks the case involving the use of biological weapon is closed and all blame has been put on a dead man, Bruce Edwards Ivins, a researcher at Fort Detrick, the center for US Army's biological weapons of mass destruction . There was never a public inquiry of these attacks, but the damage was done. Anthrax attacks created the necessary atmosphere of fear conducive to the passage of the PATRIOT Act, a drastic 'legal recourse' to keep an eye on the enemy within. Anthrax attacks also provided a pretext for the US to attack Iraq, "a country stockpiling 'weapons of mass destruction.'"
On this coming anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks George Bush and Barack Obama would visit the World Trade Center site in New York and would meet with people who lost their loved ones on September 11, 2001. Obama and Bush's speechwriters would craft the best speeches most suitable for the occasion. On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Obama and Bush would deliver these heartwarming speeches--using teleprompters--with somber faces, resolute demeanors, and determined voices; speeches which in truth would be the masterpieces of doubletalk. Only the flag waving naive would agree with the official story and would understand why the War on Terror should go on.
And on the same day, several peace groups would have a very different type of 911 remembrance. These other type of commemorative programs would be protests against the war and appeals for peace. One such program is being arranged by the Friends of South Asia ( "Ten Years after 911, A South Asian Reaction: Films, discussions, and literary readings" would be held on Sunday, September 11, 2011, 1- 4 pm, at the Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. The event is free and open to all. For those who attend the program it would be an excellent opportunity to share their own 9-11 stories and a catharsis of 9-11 related emotions.

Photo courtesy of

Friday, March 25, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Imagining how Jinnah would feel about today's Pakistan: PACC celebrates Founder's Day

Delectable food, two eloquent speakers, a short video presentation imbued in good old nationalism, and a scintillating performance by renowned singer Munni Begum marked this year's well-attended Founder's Day celebrations, held at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, California. The tradition of celebrating the Founder's Day program on December 25 was started by Bay Area attorney Javed Ellahie (under the umbrella of the Pakistan Founders Celebration Committee) and was taken over by the PACC (Pakistan American Cultural Center) after the latter's inception. The program that has been annually held without an interruption gives Pakistanis, especially non-Christian Pakistanis, living in the San Francisco Bay Area something to do on the Christmas day.

Founder's Day 2010 program, moderated by Bay Area Urdu connoisseur Annie Akhter,
started with guitar renditions of the US and Pakistani anthems artfully played by young Ayaz Latif. Next in line was PACC President-elect Noreen Tariq's short speech. A short video presentation with Junoon's Junoon-say-aur-ishq-say-milti-hai-azadi playing in the background--video put together by Farrukh Shah Khan--was then showed to set up the stage for the speeches to follow.

The theme of this year's Founder's Day program was Jinnah in 2010, as in how would Mohammad Ali Jinnah feel if here were to come out of his grave and visit today's Pakistan. Countries are expected to survive much beyond the lives of their founding fathers. So this rhetorical question about Jinnah can be asked about all the people who fought for independence and finally got a piece of land liberated. How would George Washington feel visiting today's US? [Probably pleasantly surprised to see the size of the country grown tremendously, but a little alarmed by the growth of the federal government.] How would Simon Bolivar feel visiting today's Gran Colombia (Spanish South America)? [Probably a bit dismayed on seeing the land he liberated fractured into separate countries and sometimes not getting along with each other.] How would Lenin feel seeing the Soviet Union no more? How would Mao Tse-Tung feel seeing the economic system of the country changing direction? And near us, how would Gandhi feel, if he were to brought back to life?

In his speech on Jinnah in 2010 Brigadier General (Retired) Feroz Hasan Khan, lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, said that if Jinnah were to visit Pakistan today he would not be very happy because when he would take his expired passport for renewal, he would be asked to fill out a form that uses abusive language for the religious leader of a significantly large minority of Pakistan.

Feroz Khan said that people have been painting Jinnah in the light they themselves want to see Jinnah in. In Feroz Khan's opinion Jinnah was a secular person--not an atheist, but a person ready to live with others (of opposing views).

Khan said Jinnah wanted to see Pakistan a modern Muslim state. He said that if Jinnah were to come back he would be disappointed by Pakistan's economic condition. Khan said that nations develop using tangible resources such as their territorial size, the quality of their population, their military strength, and their economic potential; four intangible things that make a nation include national cohesion, domestic stability, international prestige, and the supporters of allies and friends.

Feroz Khan said if Jinnah were to come back he would be surprised by the resilience of the people of Pakistan. And we would be pleased by the optimism and valor of the Pakistani youth. Khan said he did not have an answer for how Jinnah would feel about Pakistan being a nuclear state today.

The next speaker on the topic of 'Jinnah in 2010' was Sabahat Rafiq (also known as Sabahat Rafiq Sherwani). Sabahat Rafiq said that (even when he demanded a separate homeland for the Muslims) Jinnah cannot be called a fundamentalist. Plain and simple, Jinnah could see the ground realities. Jinnah was initially a Congress leader but when he saw the prevailing mindset and realized how democracy in the independent India would in fact be a form of the largest religious group's domination over other minorities Jinnah parted ways with the Congress.

Sabahat Rafiq said if Jinnah were to come back today he would ask the majority of Muslims in Pakistan to not impose their values on others [for this was the very fear Muslims had when they demanded a separate homeland].

She said Jinnah would ask the expatriate Pakistanis to help the people of Pakistan who work in very unfavorable conditions and still make the country work. Rafiq thought the nuclear capability of Pakistan was a good deterrence and "that is why we are safe today."

She asked Pakistanis to not renew the debate on the ideology of Pakistan and instead work with what they had and make it better.

A short Q&A session, in which the uneasy questions were apparently sanitized, followed the two 'Jinnah in 2010' speeches.

In response to 'Who is a modern Muslim?' Feroz Khan said a modern Muslim is one who blends well in the 21st Century atmosphere and who does not want to pull the society back to some bygone era.

Responding to the question 'What needs to be done at the grassroots and what needs to be done at the higher level, to improve things in Pakistan?' Sabahat Rafiq said the democratic process should be let to continue without interruption.

In response to 'Is nuclear power a liability or an asset?' Feroz Khan said the nuclear capability is never a solution for the domestic problems. He said that it has been twelve years since Pakistan acquired nuclear capability, but that prowess has not given the country any internal security.

Answering 'What would Quaid think of Pakistan military's extraordinary strength (in comparison to the other institutions) today, Feroz Khan said if Jinnah were to come back to life he would be mad both at the politicians and the military leadership. Defending his former employer Khan said if the institution of the Pakistan army is stronger than other national institutions then efforts should be put in making other institutions stronger instead of making the army weaker.

Next in line was Farrukh Shah Khan, PACC's current president, who thanked the audience for their attendance and announced PACC community service awards for Dr. Khalid Siddiqui (Bay Area Islamic scholar) and Tashie Zaheer (Urdu poet and organizer of monthly Urdu literary meetings, under the banner of the Urdu Academy of North America). These awards were given for the outstanding community services of the awardees.

PACC regularly hosts a karaoke night on the last Sunday of the month. Two karaoke artists of the PACC music nights, Yasmeen Haq and Asghar Aboobaker (PACC founder and financial wizard) sang songs to give audience a taste of how the karaoke nights go. Much more than their singing abilities the performers were applauded for their courage to stand in front of the one-hundred plus strong audience and sing. An alluring flute performance by Amjad Noorani followed the karaoke.

And then came the part of the program which for many was the main attraction of the event: performance by Munni Begum. To an enthralled audience Munni Begum played harmonium and gracefully gyrated her shoulders in rhythm singing poetry of love and hedonism; her performance continuing till late at night proved the point that if you earn your living through work that you really enjoy you can keep doing it for a very long time and till a very old age.

[See more photos here:]

جناح دو ہزار دس میں، پاکستان امریکن کلچرل سینٹر، منی بیگم، چاندنی ریستوراں، جاوید الہی، عینی اختر، ایاز لطیف گٹار، نورین طارق، جنون، جنوں سے اور عشق سے ملتی ہے آزادی، فرخ شاہ خان، بانی پاکستان کا دن، محمد علی جنا، جارج واشنگٹن، ساءمن بلیوار، لینن، ماءو زے تنگ، گاندھی، بریگیڈیر جنرل ریٹاءرڈ فیروز حسن خان، لیکچرار نیول پوسٹ گریجویٹ اسکول، مونٹرے، کیلی فورنیا، فیروز خان، صباحت رفیق شیروانی، فرخ شاہ خان، کمیونٹی سروس ایوارڈ، ڈاکٹر خالد صدیقی، تاشی ظہیر، اردو اکیڈمی آف نارتھ امیرکا، کیرااوکی ناءٹ، یاسمین حق، اصغر ابوبکر، امجد نورانی، بانسری، ممتاز گلوکارہ منی بیگم۔