TORONTO: Canadians of Pakistani origins are never behind in the struggle for progress and prosperity of Canada. They have demonstrated it time and again. This year they celebrated Canada Day in a befitting manner and won hearts, trust and confidence of the people. They showed that they are always ready to share and shoulder any responsibility and offer any sacrifice because they consider Canada also as their motherland.

The Canpak Chamber of Commerce, under the trusted leadership of chairman Shahid Hashmi, took the lead this year in starting the celebration. Canpak organized the Canada Day Celebration on June 25, 2005, at Holiday Inn, Markham. Over 300 people of all ages attended the function, despite the day being very hot. The great success was the result of extraordinary efforts of Shahid Hashmi and his team. The driving force behind this was Ghalib Iqbal, Consul General of Pakistan in Toronto, who was the chief guest on the occasion. His keen interest in promoting the community in the right direction has given courage to the people and vision to the leaders.

The distinguished guests present on the occasion included Jim Karygiannis, Liberal MP, John Tory, leader of the opposition in Ontario, Frank Klees, MPP, Police Chief of York Region and Lisa of York University. Three special guests of international fame from India, who are authorities of Urdu language, were Dr Qamar Raees, Dr Shahid Maholi and Prof Ali Ahmed Fatmi. They had participated in the very successful International Urdu Conference held in Toronto from June 17-19, 2005, which was organized by the Weekly Urdu Times of America and Canada.

GHALIB IQBAL started his address with `Happy Canada Dayí and gave the important message to the Pakistani community to proudly call themselves Canadians of Pakistani origin instead of Pakistani Canadians.

He said: "The tremendous contribution of the Pakistani community will further strengthen the ties between Pakistan and Canada. They have always played a pivotal role in all fields. They have been instrumental in cementing the bonds of friendship between the two countries. The productive work is producing positive results and is indeed a matter of pride for all of us. I am confident that their efforts in this direction would bring the two countries even closer. It is nice to see that so many Canadians of Pakistani origin are celebrating Canada Day. This is a very good sign."

Ghalib said: "You are fortunate to be in Canada. In order to become an important part of the society and system, you must spread out in the country and interact with the people. This will help in creating better understanding. Donít isolate yourself by keeping away from others and only rushing to the areas of your own people. This approach is wrong and harmful for the community."

"Relationship between Pakistan and Canada is extremely warm and close. There is still a considerable scope for further improvement and we must make efforts to reach the peak level. The Government and people of Pakistan appreciate the continued Canadian support in the development of Pakistan," he stated.

He said: "We must never forget the responsibility of teaching Urdu to our new and coming generations. Extraordinary efforts must be made in this connection."

Ghalib Iqbal, who has become a very popular figure of the community because of his close contact with the people, interest in their affairs and efforts to bring them on a common platform, congratulated Shahid Hashmi and his team for the successful Canada Day Celebration function and for being the first to hold the event. He concluded his address with Long Live Canada-Pakistan Friendship.

JOHN TORY, leader of the opposition in Ontario, said: "Immigrants have enriched Canada and are an asset. We share many values. I am leader of the immigrants as well and always ready to help them." He also congratulated Shahid Hashmi and his team for taking the lead in organizing the Canada Day Celebration function. He said he too not only enjoyed but also was greatly impressed by presentations by the kids.

JIM KARYGIANNIS, Liberal MP, said: "Assalam Walaikum. and Jeevey, Jeevey Pakistan and Canada. The Canadian Charter of Rights has been translated into Urdu. Very soon it will be unveiled. This is a great leap forward as it will help create better understanding, trust and confidence. It will help bring people closer. We must accept RACE, which is the basis of a bright future." He congratulated the organizer of the event.

He praised the contributions of immigrants and highlighted the opportunities they have in Canada. He spoke about rights and gave the Canadian Charter of Rights in English to Ghalib Iqbal for presenting it to Shahid Hashmi, Chairman of Canpak Chamber of Commerce. John Tory, Frank Klees, Police Chief of York Region, Lisa of York University and other distinguished guests were also invited to join the presentation.

FRANK KLEES, MPP, said: "Because of you, Canada is what it is today ---a great country. It has given us a lot. We are so much thankful to it for what it has given to us. I am an immigrant as well and understand their feelings and needs. This is why I consider all as my friends. I am greatly impressed by the speeches on Canada by the kids. I congratulate Shahid Hashmi for creating awareness and understanding in the community by organizing a very successful Canada Day function. The celebration is a very good sign for the community. It is a foundation for a bright future."

POLICE CHIEF OF THE York REGION too congratulated Shahid Hashmi for organizing the Canada Day Celebration and said that he was greatly impressed by the wonderful presentation.

SHAHID HASHMI, Chairman of Canpak Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the objective of organizing the Canada Day Celebration. He said: "Canada and Pakistan are our motherlands and we must sincerely work for progress and prosperity of both. We must proudly call ourselves Canadians and join the mainstream as soon as possible. Events like Canada Day Celebration will help us greatly in this connection. It will give us the sense and understanding of what we are and what we need to do for Canada. This is very important for our success, bright future and for bringing us closer to the people."

He asked the people present in the hall to mingle and meet various officials and professionals for help in seeking guidance about field of their choice, problems and any queries. He said. "They are here to assist you and answer all your questions. Such opportunities will bring both closer." There were professionals of many fields including lawyers, doctors, accountants and educationists. People enjoyed meeting them and benefited greatly. This was a new and positive approach.

Shahid Hashmi thanked the financial partners---- Muhammad Arshad, Rizwan Qureshi and Mansoor Qureshi of Arco Computers Inc., Javed Akhtar and Shaheen Akhtar of Doon Resins, Dr Jamil Dar, Dr Shahnaz Dar and Seema Hashmi. He also thanked and praised the team members including Majid Sheikh, Salma Dar, Aftab Rizvi, Hameeduddin Ahmed, Javed Akhtar of Doon Resins, Sabir Gaya, Syed Kazim Ali, Seema Hashmi, Sohabe Hashmi, Savera Hashmi, Javed Zaheer, Sabiha Javed, Sana Javed and Asifa (MC). He particularly thanked Nazimuddin Nazim for his great contribution in making the function successful and wonderful.

EDUCATION AWARD: Ghalib Iqbal and the financial partners of this yearís award---Muhammad Arshad, Rizwan Qureshi and Mansoor Qureshi of Arco Computers Inc., Javed Akhtar and Shaheen Akhtar of Doon Resins, Dr Jamil Dar, Dr Shahnaz Dar and Seema Hashmi--- presented the education award to Lisa of York University.

The name of the award was initially chosen as Ghalib Iqbal Award to recognize his tremendous contribution and meritorious services but Ghalib Iqbal in this function proposed that it be named after the national poet of Pakistan Sir Dr Muhammad Iqbal and called as Allama Iqbal Award. This proposal was immediately and unanimously accepted. Ghalib Iqbal was praised for this decision.

Shahid Hashmi signed three years contract with the York University in connection with the award. In 2003, all the colleges and universities were contacted with the objective of involving students in various productive activities. The hectic search resulted in selection of 22 non-Pakistani students who did or were doing research on Pakistan and Kashmir. They were honoured with awards.

The response of the York University was the best and very encouraging. Cooperation of the university too proved it. The participation was tremendous. Ghalib Iqbal played an anchor role in success of this campaign.

Shahid Hashmi said: "By contributing at least $100 per year towards education we can raise sufficient fund to provide financial help to those students who have excellent academic record. This way we can recognize and support them and promote education. This contribution in any shape should be made in the name of the York University. It is extremely important for the community."

Sajjad Piracha of Orient Travels was greatly impressed and moved by appeal of Shahid Hashmi and immediately gave $500 to Lisa for the education award.

LISA OF YORK UNIVERSITY thanked the organizers for presenting the education award. She spoke about York University and said it is the third largest university of Canada and has 50,000 students.

SYED AFTAB RIZVIís satirical presentation `Canada Day 2020í made every one laugh in the hall. People enjoyed it very much.

HASSAN BAIG, a senior journalist of Pakistan, who has now settled in Canada and still writes on weekly basis, praised Canada for the facilities and opportunities provided. The 77-year old veteran newsman said he had travelled to many places but has found Canada as the best country. He said he is proud of his choice and has no regrets.

PROCEEDINGS: The function started right on time with recitation of the Holy Quran. The kids presented national anthems of Canada and Pakistan. They also presented poem and papers on Canada. Quiz and painting contests and fashion show were also held. Prizes were given to the winners and participants. The kids were fully encouraged and given opportunity to express their feelings about Canada. This was one of the main objectives of the function. Over 100 children took part this year and next year their number would be greatly increased. The participation and encouragement of children are being realized and practically implemented in order to prepare them for the future.

The Canada Day celebrationís first part concluded with cake cutting ceremony. All the distinguished guests took part in the ceremony.

MUSHAIRA: The second part of the celebration was a Mushaira. It was held to pay tribute to Late Mrs Sarfraz Iqbal, mother of Ghalib Iqbal, Consul General of Pakistan in Toronto. He was also the chief guest on the occasion. Dr Syed Taghi Abedi, a renowned scholar, was the MC.

The distinguished personalities, who were also renowned scholars and poets, present on the stage were Dr Qamar Raees, Dr Shahid Maholi, Prof Ali Ahmed Fatmi, all three of them internationally famed Urdu authorities from India, Syed Iftikhar Haider, Karamatullah Ghori, Abdur Rehman Siddiqui. Seema Hashmi was also seated. Dr Qamar Raees presided over the Mushaira. Muneef ashar, Afzal Imam and Nasreen Syed also took part in the Mushaira. The selected gathering enjoyed the Mushaira very much as they got the chance to listen to all of them.

Dr Qamar Raees, Dr Shahid Maholi and Prof Ali Ahmed Fatmi thanked Shahid Hashmi and Seema Hashmi for their great and memorable hospitality and for honouring them as guests in their house. They were treated as family members and also shown almost all places of Toronto.

VOTE OF THANKS: Shahid Hashmi in the end thanked the participants and team members for helping make both the Canada Day Celebration and the Mushaira a great success.





Javed Zaheer (Masters in International Relations), Canadian of Pakistani Origin (CPO), Professional Freelance Journalist, Veteran Active Member (VAM) of Toronto Press Club, Council Member of Karachi Press Club, former Senior Sub-Editor of Pakistanís leading English Daily DAWN. Address: 1709-35 Thorncliffe Park Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M4H 1J3, Canada. Tel # (416) 696-0981.