The first-ever symbolic raising of the Pakistani flag took place at the Santa Clara County building on Wednesday, August 14, the 66th anniversary of the founding of the modern nation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947. The ceremony, sponsored by American Muslim Voice (AMV) and the office of Supervisor Dave Cortese, was aimed at honoring the contributions of Pakistani-Americans to Silicon Valley.
Following the flag raising ceremony in the James McEntee plaza in front of the County Building, participants went in to the County Supervisors Chambers for a program that featured a visual presentation about Pakistan, its culture, people, and traditions, along with comments from several significant local Pakistani-American leaders.
In his welcome to the group, Supervisor Dave Cortese noted his own pride at being a descendant of an immigrant who arrived from Italy at the age of 13, and how important it was to everyone to recognize and celebrate the contributions of immigrant communities. He presented a County resolution honoring the Pakistani community. Other recognitions came from the offices of the Mayor and City Council of San Jose, State Senator Jim Beall, and Congressperson Zoe Lofgren.
Khalid Saeed, the national president of AMV, remarked that Muslims are like anybody else, and it was essential that the local community "not let the haters speak for us." "I am an American," he said, but "even after 40 years in this country, events in Pakistan still affect me."
Samina Sundas, the director of American Muslim Voice and a key figure in arranging for the ceremony, challeged the gathering to get involved in the community. This day, she said, was not something that happened overnight. It was the result of some 18 years of involvement in the community. She challenged people to open their homes, their minds, and their hearts to build enduring relationships that will strengthen the whole community.
According to a recent study of the Bay Area Muslim population, Pakistani-born people are approximately 14% of the Muslim population. However, many families have been in the region for years, and many second and third generation Muslims claim Pakistani heritage.