Last Sunday I attended my first Pakistan Welfare Trust Annual Dinner, which was in its 27th year! A big thank you to Dr Imtiaz Majid for his hospitality on Sunday evening.
It was an interesting event for many reasons. It was attended by dignitaries, elected officials (43 in total from across the Scottish political spectrum and over 500 people) and it showed the immense regard that the Pakistani community hold their host country in. There were many speeches, passionate and short, but my favourite ( and yes I am biased) was from Alex Salmond, our First Minister. He has built a rapport with our community and has an in-depth understanding of how we can all work together to make Scotland a more successful and prosperous country. He understands our entrepreneurial spirit and innovative nature and sees it as a huge asset to help Scotland grow. When he says we are part of the tartan fabric of Scottish society, he means it – its not an empty soundbite. And the First Minister is right – we have played an immense contribution in shaping our nation and will continue to play our part in society after independence.
Concerns were highlighted by the Trust custodians and it was again interesting to note that many of these were similar to concerns that many of us were highlighting in society at large – dismay at the rise of far right politics, alarm at the way fascist groups
are entering places of worship, the rise of ‘othering’ where groups of people are demonised in society – be that for their religious beliefs or ethnicity. It was reiterated that this is our home – we are a fair and just nation. There was a quiet buzz at the event, and the feeling that change was happening. In conversations around tables, the referendum was discussed amongst other topics, but to have Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the SNP amongst the guest list, made it much more informative and discursive with much banter. All said and done, what it showed to me was that all present love their home, Scotland. It was a good event and it was great to see so many people supporting the work that the Trust does through the year. Wishing the Pakistan Welfare Trust all the best for the future.
N N Riaz