Pakistan Independence Day parade in New York
NEW YORK (APP): Top Pakistani diplomats -- Jalil Abbas Jilani and Dr Maleeha Lodhi -- reaffirmed Pakistan's firm support to the Kashmiri people struggling for their right to self-determination at the annual Pakistan Independence Day marking the 70th anniversary of the country's establishment that drew hundreds of Pakistanis in New York on a hot Sunday afternoon.
The Ambassador to the United States, Jalil and permanent representative to the United Nations, Dr Lodhi spoke out against the atrocities being committed in Indian occupied Kashmir by security forces against youthful protestors, and called on the international community to take notice of the deteriorating situation and help in ending the ongoing repression being perpetrated in the valley.
The crowd responded with vociferous anti-India slogans. They also chanted "Kashmir banega Pakistan".
Ambassador Lodhi, who spoke first, prayed for the success of Kashmiri people's epic struggle for their freedom from occupation.
Pakistan, she said, was actively pursuing the Kashmir dispute at various forums at the United Nations.The envoy told the audience that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will raise the issue when he addresses the UN General Assembly next month.The Prime Minister, she said, will forcefully reaffirm Pakistan's stand before over 100 heads of state/government and call for resolving the decades-old dispute to pave the way to peace in the region.
Pakistan, Ambassador Lodhi said, enjoys high prestige at the United Nations and, as one of the top contributors to UN peacekeeping, the country had earned great respect for its contribution to the cause of world peace.
Ambassador Jilani, who was the Grand Marshal of the parade, paid tributes the Pakistani community for their hard work and their positive role in their adopted country. He urged them to continue to work for promoting the interests of their motherland in the United States.
"Let us also reaffirm our commitment to further strengthening the ties of friendship between Pakistan and the United States and dedicate ourselves to bringing our two great nations ever closer,"Ambassador Jilani said.
Pakistan's Consul General in New York, Raja Ali Ejaz, called for maintaining unity "among ourselves and renew our resolve to work together for the greater progress and prosperity of Pakistan."
The afternoon's heat did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants who raised "Pakistan Zinda Bad" slogans to demonstrate their dedication to the country and its founding father-- Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
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, reviewed by Ambassador Jilani. The route from Madison Avenue's 38th street - the start point- to 23rd street was decorated with Pakistani and American flags.
Twelve 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 songs.
The parade was rounded off with a cultural programme. Fariha Pervez, a leading Pakistani singer, enthralled the crowd with patriotic and other hit songs. Some local artists also performed.
The Pakistan Day Parade Committee organized the event in which many people were involved. They include: Hamim Syed, chairman; Malik Abbas, co-chairman; Manzoor-Ul-Hassan, convener; Mohammad Ahmad Jan, Chairman of the Organizing Committee; Munir Lodhi, secretary-general and Qasim Majeed, treasurer.
The proceedings were conducted by Secretary-General Munir Lodhi.