Local anxieties following the worst floods to impact Pakistan in its recent history dominated Pakistan Day celebrations held on Aug. 8 at the William Hingston community centre in Park Extension. Attended by leaders from the Montreal Pakistani community, as well as by many elected officials from the federal, provincial and city governments, the annual event marks the day in August 1947 when Pakistan obtained its independence from Britain.
Consul appeals for help
Reading from a statement, Muhammad Usman Chachar, Pakistan’s Consul General in Montreal, pointed out the important relationship Canada plays in Pakistan’s development. He also referred to the ongoing efforts being made in Pakistan to combat terrorism. “We are partners with Canada in reversing extremism and terrorism,” he said.
He said there is a general admiration in Pakistan for Canada’s acceptance and tolerance of people who come from other traditions and faiths. Chachar said he wanted to appeal to Montrealers to lend a helping hand to the victims of the flooding in Pakistan. “These floods have caused extensive damage to property and infrastructure and have resulted in much loss of life,” he said.
While speeches at the annual Pakistan Day event in Park Ex tend to focus on progress made in the homeland, this year’s discourses were much more centered on the flood situation. A special booth was set up in the gym at the William Hingston Centre to collect relief donations. “We are going through a very difficult situation in our country,” Abdul Khan, president of the Pakistan Association of LaSalle, told the Park Extension News. “Thousands of people have died and millions of people they are homeless.”
Reading a statement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office, Agop Evereklian, a Conservative candidate from Laval serving as a liaison for the PM, said on behalf of Harper, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Pakistani community for your contribution to a diverse and multicultural Canada. Pakistan began its journey to full independence on Aug. 14, 1947 and it is now a promising democratic republic committed to promoting human rights, good governance and the rule of law.
Message from Canada’s PM
“As you celebrate the independence day of Pakistan, I invite you reflect on the many valuable contributions that people of Pakistani descent have made to Canada,” he added. “You have long enriched Canadian society with skills and your efforts continue to contribute to the social, economic and political fabric of our country. As Canadians, we all take great pride in the success of our multiculturalism and this celebration is a perfect opportunity for us to participate in the traditions of our families, friends and neighbours.”
Noting that Pakistan Day is usually an occasion for celebration, Papineau Liberal MP Justin Trudeau also pointed out that this year it was also a time “to reflect and a time to come together as a community. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives. Millions more have are displaced and homeless. Our heart goes out to everyone in Pakistan who is suffering through these terrible floods and I wish we all hold together.”