The High and Low of the PSNTís Pakistan Day Reception
31 March 2015
By Saeed Qureshi
The Pakistan Day falls every year on
March 23. Laudably PSNT (Pakistani Society of North Texas) celebrates this
overly important event with traditional fervor. Nadeem Zaman, the current
president of the PSNT is an energetic, robust and thoughtful person. He
succeeded Anjum Anwar, a charming, graceful yet dignified female who had held
the prestigious portfolio of PSNT presidency for two consecutive years.
The chief guest for this yearís
celebratory function was the newly appointed Pakistanís ambassador to the
United States H. E. Jalil Abbas Jilani. He graciously came from Washington DC
to grace this auspicious occasion of national import and a proud reminder of
the epic struggle of our stalwarts and leaders towards carving an independent
state for the Muslims of India. It was on 23rd March in 1940 at Lahore that
conceptually Pakistan came into being. As such it is an exceptional memorable
I would wish that such a dignified
function should have been observed at an accessible and easy to reach place
for the ordinary participants. It was certainly a tall order for a newcomer
and for a person unaware of the winding and tricky roads of the congested
downtown to reach Ritz Carrolton Hotel: the venue of this eveningís function.
Ritz Carrolton Hotel is a posh and high
profile hotel serving mostly the VIPs, the government functionaries and super
duper bureaucrats and businessmen. Not to speak of the free public parking,
it maintains only a valet parking system with exorbitant charges of 15
dollars per car. One may imagine the predicament and frustration of someone
who did not have enough cash under the impression that place like Funasia and
other hotels in DFW should be having free parking also.
This is a kind of no go hotel for
commoners. Yet it must have been chosen by the PSNT management body to accord
befitting and magnificent welcome to the ambassador of Pakistan. Should we
please our diplomats, political big-wigs and celebrities with such a lavish
pomp and show that is out of synch with our culture of modesty and
Inside the hall there was a kind of
pandemonium. In a hall no matter how spacious, if the lights are dim and one
has the difficulty in recognizing the faces of your well wishers or
distracters, the atmosphere becomes murky. The main reason for feeble lights
was that all main lights including the chandeliers were switched off. There
were two floodlights placed in one corner of the spacious ballroom and were
exclusively focused on the stage. Someone must explain why chandeliers were
switched off causing a dim and relatively dark aura in the hall.
Those who fell in the line of those
irresistible piercing flood lights must see an ophthalmologist this week. I
could even see the president of the PSNT blinking his half opened eyes while
delivering his welcome address because of those two devastating lights than
one can see over the jail walls or in a playground. Wasnít it distressing?
On the central long table were seated the VIP guests including the chief
guest the honorable ambassador of Pakistan. Sitting on this precious table
were also an assortment of the leading business tycoons among the Pakistani
community as well as the retina of the present and former office bearers of
Yet the occupants of this special table
seemed to be caught in a miserable condition. While they were rubbing
shoulders with each others because of the narrow space between the chairs, a
hallo of darkness engulfed that table making it difficult for onlookers to
recognize them. Honestly despite my best efforts and by widening my eyes I
could not place H. E. Ambassador Jilani as to where he was lodged.
As a keen observer I could watch the
guests looking like shadows particularly those with their backs towards the
main stage. Apart from their predicament of the gloomy light, they would
steer their heads all the way backwards in order to cast a momentary furtive
glance on the stage to discover how the speaker looked like and who he or she
was. That queer gesture included also the VIPs sitting on the central table.
The other guests mostly the families sitting a bit far away around the stage
with their backs to the stage were faced with a similar dilemma. Ill at ease,
they would turn their whole frame of body to look at the speaking figure at
For the food serving staff, it was rather an ordeal to reach the tables with
food-stuffed crockery. As the tables were laid close to each other, you may
invoke your imagination how they would negotiate their accession to each
table. It was amusing to see them emerging from the kitchen doors one after
another in a queue with eyes down like penguins walking on the seaside.
I would suggest that instead of serving the dinner on the round tables, the
buffet could have been a much better option. The PSNT has been offering
buffet dinners on such previous occasions and those were least hazardous.
That was rather a safe and easy mechanism to avoid the army of the bearers to
walk to every table and serve the food to every guest.
It would have been impressive if the management of this grand evening had
thought of serving Desi or Pakistani cuisine as was done in such festivities
in the past. That could have added to the flavor of celebrating a national
day of joy and jubilation. On such rare occasions we Pakistani should think
of promoting our culture by exhibiting our costumes, carpets, jewelry, foods
and similar other facets of our life back home.
President Nadeem invited me personally
with a gratis ticket of $ 200. But it was worthless as the seat for me was
neither reserved nor marked with my name. And this bizarre situation must
have been faced by many clueless invitees like me. By courtesy of Amir Rupani,
I was taken to various tables by an exceptionally courteous person (Nadeem
Farooqi). On each table I was treated like a gate crasher and an unwelcome
intruder. I am not aware how many jay walkers might have faced such a bizarre
and unpalatable situation. Even those who knew me for ages turned their faces
away as if I was a lifter or a sneaky trespasser. The basic snag in that
invitation was that I was given a ticket but no seat allotted.
After going around several tables
finally I was lodged (courtesy Awais Naseer a celebrated journalist) on the
media table placed close to the stage. But while sitting there it was
difficult to look back because of those two dazzling lights one may call the
Besides the dim light and flawed
seating arrangements, the sound system too was not as resounding and clear as
it should have been. The buzzing of the guests repressed the sound system or
else sound system was considerably toned down.
Pardon my audacity not to report the
contents of the address of the ambassador as I left in a hurry because of the
meager quota of resilience left in me.
But notwithstanding these imperfections
as pointed out by me I offer my best and most sincere compliments to the PSNT
team for celebrating a day as momentous as Pakistan day. This demonstrates
that despite the above mentioned odds, they are imbued with a trenchant
passion of nationalism and blessed with the edifying gift of patriotism. I am
with them if they launch a campaign for putting Pakistan on the right tracks.
Note: The above presentation is with
malice towards none.
The writer is a senior journalist,
former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other
articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com