NEW YORK: Thousands of Pakistani-Americans gathered on Sunday for the annual Pakistan Independence Day Parade marking the 69th anniversary of the establishment of their homeland, with a representative delegation from Balochistan giving an uplifting message to the cheering crowd: the Army has broken the back of the so-called insurgency and peace has returned to the province.
Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, led the tributes to the 28-member delegation from Balochistan, which is composed of elected members from all parts of the province, for their presence in the parade at New York's Madison Avenue.
She also congratulated her compatriots living in New York and surrounding regions for turning up in such large numbers, especially women and children.
The afternoon's heat did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants who raised vociferous "Pakistan Zinda Bad" slogans to demonstrate their dedication to the country and its founding father-- Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Balochistan's Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti deplored attempts by some quarters to project that people of Balochistan were not in favour of Pakistan, saying they were loyal to the country. Balochistan was a part of Pakistan and will remain so for ever, he said.
Bugti said the Pakistan Army and the civilian government were on the same page in their push to eliminate the insurgents who were now on the run. "We, the people of Pakistan, are united," he told the crowd chanting "Pak Fauj Zinda Bad."
Speaker of Balochistan Assembly Abdul Qudoos, Provincial Minister for
Agriculture and Cooperatives Department Sardar Mohamma Aslam Bizenjo and MPA (Q league) Abdul Karim Nowhserwani expressed similar sentiments, with the confidence that the remaining terrorists would soon meet their end.
The Punjab Minister for Population Welfare, Zakia Shah Nawaz, who especially came to New York to participate in the parade, said that Prime Minister Nawaz's government was working hard to make Pakistan free of terrorists, establish law and order and encourage investments to make the country of the Quaid's dreams. Pakistan's Consul General In New York, Raja Ali Ejaz, also spoke on the occasion.
The New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, sent a message praising the contribution of the Pakistani community in the development and progress of the United States.
Rohail Dar, president of PML-N, USA, extended his congratulations on the Independence Day and paid tributes to Pakistan's security agencies on their successful operations to confront the challenge posed by terrorists.
Men, women and children -- mostly clad in national dresses -- came together in this annual event in an impressive show of unity. They exchanged Independence Day greetings with each other.
Raising slogans and waving the national flag, Pakistanis warmly cheered the parade as it moved down one of New York City's main avenue. The route from Madison Avenue's 28th street - the start point - to 23rd street was decorated with Pakistani and American flags.
Seven decorated floats, with some depicting Pakistan's progress in various fields, while others sponsored by local Pakistani businesses, also wound their way down the avenue. Bands on the floats and on the ground struck up patriotic song.
The high point of the parade was a cultural programme. Artists from Pakistan and some local enthusiasts enthralled the crowd with their hit songs.
The Pakistan Day Parade Committee organized the event in which many people were involved. They were: Muhammad M. Haque, president; Hamim Syed, Chairman; Malik Abbas, co-chairman; Manzoor-Ul-Hassan, convener; Munir Lodhi, secretary-general and Qasim Majeed, Treasurer. – APP