LAHORE It seemed as if all whos who of the city have turned out to attend the American Independence Day function held at the residence of the US Consulate General Carmela Conroy, and they have made it certain that they reach in-time as well, while quite a few stayed beyond the scheduled time on a humid June 30 late evening.
It was truly a celebration which was attended by people from all shades of life, including politicians, elected members of different houses, diplomats of other countries, businessmen, showbiz guys and gals, mediamen, and editors. All were dressed to make an impression suits, saris, shalwar kameez, contrasting T-shirts and pair of jeans.
The gathering imparted an impression that they were at the premises of a friendly country, which could not be antagonist to Pakistan. Everyone was mixing around, and looking for acquaintances. And if one was not familiar but was an important person, at least sharing of visiting cards was possible. The rest known ones could share at least one or two sentences, like 'Good to see after a long time; stay in touch. Perhaps this would be actualised at the next event at the same premises At the onset, elaborate arrangements were made for an interrupted traffic flow, including three parking lots and shuttle service, if one was 'self-driven, as put by quizzing men at security checks, and the City Traffic Wardens were there to guide well-dressed visitors further.
As I was 'self-driven, I had to park my car at a little distance from the residence, and avail shuttle service. However, a gentleman clad in civvies in quite a contrast to the Consulate staff was efficiently noting down peoples names and their working places, obviously after questioning them for this. Surely, this was all for security purpose, but it annoyed quite a few since they believed that 'some other people were collecting data.
After passing another check point, we reached the entrance to the residence, where we handed over invitation cards, again cleared by security, and were asked to drop smoking kits and cigarette packs at a sort of cemented-plant pot to be picked up while leaving later on. The gentleman was politely 'requesting to do the act since it was not allowed, though latter a few could be seen smoking inside the premises.
Inside, we were given a double-side printed page, which provided an aerial view of the premises pointing out key areas for food, coffee, drinks, entry/exit and others.
The second page carried-16 multiple choice questions as part of the 'US Independence Day Trivia Contest 2011. Chaudhary Sahab You will certainly fail to attempt all questions correctly; so better leave it, snapped former Naib Nazim Lahore Idrees Hanif in Punjabi, accompanied by Master Arshad, who was more interested in tasting 'jau ka thanda pani for the first time in his life. Upon this, I folded the paper and thrusted in my pocket. Later, when I tried to reply the Trivia, I agreed to Idrees since Googlised answers were correct.
While all were sharing light chat, Carmela Conroy, accompanied by Sheharyar Taseer, son of assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, appeared on the stage. National anthems of both countries were sung by a group.
She thanked all, and briefly talked about Washingtons history. She mentioned journalist Saleem Shahzaz and Salmaan Taseer for their efforts of bettering Pakistans state of affairs. She told the audience that Taseers family was at the function as distinguished guests. Junior Taseer optimistically mentioned Pakistan as 'Land of genuine doers, which is fighting a long war against 'ruthless enemies.
Prominent among the gathering were Deputy Managing Director of Nawa-i-Waqt Group Rameeza Majid Nizami, Punjabs Education Minister Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, PPPs MPA Faiza Malik, Advisor to President Naveed Chaudhry, Coordinator Foreign Affairs PML-N Muhammad Mehdi, actor Shan, former Education minister Imran Masood, businessman Iftikhar Malik, Peerzadas of the Peer Group and others.