Martin C. Barry
Hundreds of people of Pakistani origin from all over Montreal gathered on Querbes Ave. and in Howard Park in Park Extension on Sunday Aug. 17 for festivities to mark the 72nd anniversary of their country’s national independence.
A time to celebrate
There was entertainment, singing, celebrating and an overall sense of joy and jubilation given Pakistan’s transformation since its independence to become a key player in global economic activity and international diplomatic relations.
Among those present were Laval-Les Îles Liberal Member of Parliament Fayçal El Khoury who has many people of Pakistani origin in his riding, Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros, Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli and Montreal executive-committee vice-president Magda Popeanu.
Kashmir conflict tension
Newswise, the backdrop for this year’s Pakistan Independence Day was the renewal of tension in the Kashmir Conflict, which involves an unresolved territorial dispute between Pakistan and India. And indeed, some of those in the parade carried signs drawing attention to the Kashmir situation.
In an interview with Nouvelles Parc Extension News, Pakistan Organization of Quebec General Secretary Mubashar Rasool commented on the conflict. “Because Kashmir is a disputed area since 1947 when Pakistan became a country away from British rule, this has been a disputed territory and there is no solution for that yet,” he said.
Harmony reigns in Park Ex
While maintaining that there have been human rights violations in Kashmir and that the world needs to become more aware of it, he pointed out that the Pakistani and Indian communities in Montreal remain on excellent terms and people from both manage to live in peace and harmony in Park Extension.
“We don’t want to be aggressive or start using words that are not good,” he added. “No matter where people come from, we are all together here. We are all very friendly in the community. Here in Canada we are living in peace and calm, and that is why we are here today.”
Model community, says mayor
Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli agreed that Park Extension continues to be a model of intercultural harmony, where people from a great number of cultural backgrounds come out several times a year to celebrate their origins.
“Park Extension has always been an area in Montreal where everybody lives together sharing their different cultures,” she said. ”This is what we want as an administration: to be able to assure ourselves that everybody who lives here can share their culture and live peacefully and harmoniously. This is very important for us.”
Peace in Park Ex, says Deros
Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros added, “In Park Ex we’ve always been peaceful. And in all my public statements I have always said that we are a perfect example of living together as the United Nations.
“You have so many different cultures – and there are 115 of them living peacefully here. This past year we had the lowest crime rate in all of Montreal here in Park Extension, and I am very proud of that.”
On Aug. 14, 1947, Pakistan became independent from English rule within what was then known as the British Raj. It is a national holiday in Pakistan. The day is celebrated all over Pakistan with flag raising ceremonies, tributes to the national heroes and fireworks taking place in the capital, Islamabad.
The main celebration takes place in Islamabad, where the President and Prime Minister raise the national flag at the Presidential and Parliament buildings and deliver speeches that are televised live. In the speech, the leaders highlight the achievements of the government, goals set for the future and in the words of the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam, bring “Unity, Faith and Discipline” to the people.
According to an online history source, in 1946 the Labour government in Britain, exhausted by recent events such as World War II and numerous riots, realized that it had neither the mandate at home, the support internationally, nor the reliability of the British Indian Army for continuing to control an increasingly restless British India.