Wednesday, August 10
85th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth-II
Though it was a belated reception held in connection with the 85th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, it turned out to be a well-attended function where prominent people from all walks of life could interact, refresh in minds old acquaintances, introduce and refamiliarise themselves to faces either unknown or etched in distant memories.
Certainly, it was an evening to remember since the participants could enjoy the hospitality of British High Commissioner Adam Thomson and his wife Fariba Thomson, who were welcoming each guest at the entrance of a simply but beautifully decorated large hall. The UK-flag caught guests’ immediate attention from a distance at a tightly secured area of the local hotel. One could see ‘extra’ security and smartly acting employees, guiding the vehicular movement, while quite a few keeping close watch on the arriving guests.
Smartly dressed Mr Adam Thomson and gorgeously looking Fariba Thomson warmly greeted everyone, and guests assembled themselves into groups of a few, and started discussing in-fact-nothing, since most of them were found talking about mutually common and well-understood subjects, like meeting after a long time, and never being available to go around. Even the politicians were not discussing politics, and meeting people with broad smiles and exchanging ‘good notes only’ by forgetting the assemblies and political playgrounds. It was more of personal than professional for the politicians, bureaucrats and others except the businessmen, who were found exchanging contacts.
Nevertheless meeting youngmen Sohail Yousuf and Samiullah Sidhu after over a decade was an experience of a lifetime since they have grown big on the business scene of Pakistan, and were found rubbing shoulders with foreigners, and intending to forge business relations with the British as well.
Also prominent among the gathering were PPP’s Qasim Zia, dressed in western outfit N-League’s Sirdar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, MNA Pervaiz Malik, younger-looking Vice-Chancellor Punjab University Prof Mujahid Kamran – wearing dark blue Qameez, white shalwar and chappals – two former foreign ministers Khurshid Kasuri and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, MPAs Arifa Khalid Pervaiz, Tahir Khalil Sindhu and Col Shuja Khanzada. Secretary-General Jama’at-e-Islami Liaqat Baloch had a good talk with Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, while others were waiting for their turn.
However, the arrival of Shahbaz Sharif was an unexpected one, and this turned to be the most important part of the reception. After initial greetings with people from his own political party, and others, Adam Thomson led Shahbaz Sharif to the ceremony place to have brief addresses, and cake cutting.
Shahbaz Sharif wished the British health and prosperity, and mentioned ties going from strength to strength. He also talked briefly about systematic working of his government. He also felicitated the newly-married royal couple.
Adam Thompson, while thanking Shahbaz Sharif for gracing the occasion, said morning rain in the city as a good part of the Birthday celebrations. He also mentioned that from February next year, 60 years of Queen Elizabeth’s rule would be celebrated.
He also pointed out the cooperation with the Punjab government in various sectors, and ‘serious collaboration’ against terrorism. “It is because of the reason that Punjab matters to the UK, and Pakistan’s success is vital to us,” he averred.
After this, they both held out an ‘orange’ toast to the participants.
Black was colour of the day, which turned out to be correctly placed in the ambiance. US Consulate General Carmella Conroy’s embellished sari made a huge impression, while also clad-in-black Khalida Pervaiz strengthened the overall mark.
Refreshments were served to cater needs of all.