Event celebrates Pakistani culture

The Pakistani Student Association began in 1973 with only a few members.

Jerret Raffety

University students, staff and faculty got a taste of Pakistani culture, music, politics and food Saturday at the St. Paul Student Center.

Approximately 120 people attended Pakistani Culture Night, said Usman Anwer, the Pakistani Student Association president.

The event was planned to introduce and celebrate Pakistani culture with members of the University community, Anwer said.

Since the group started in 1973, it has grown from just a few international graduate students, Anwer said in a speech to attendees.

“We have grown to include Pakistani-Americans, and we have watched this group go from largely graduate students to undergraduate students,” he said.

The event served a traditional Pakistani dinner that included chicken curry, a rice dish called “palao,” kabobs and “kheer,” a dessert.

Students said they attended the event to enjoy culture with their friends and also to make new friends.

“Events like this are a great way to meet community members and build a network of students and professionals,” said Tauha Syed, a second-year master’s student in the Carlson School of Management.

The event began with a reading of the Quran and a prayer session, representing the fourth of five prayer sessions a Muslim must observe every day.

Jerry Rinehart, associate vice provost for student affairs, also spoke at the event.

“The way in which the Pakistani Student Association is actively involved in our community has enlivened the overall learning environment,” Rinehart said to the attendees.

Rinehart also spoke about the recent academic task force recommendations that would affect the General College and the College of Human Ecology.

Rinehart stressed the need to set new standards for academic advising on campus, including establishing similar expectations in terms of staffing and expectations from all colleges.

“For too long, we have allowed colleges to make their own decisions on support for students, and, in this decentralized approach, some areas were woefully understaffed,” he said.

Future advising faculty members should be more prepared to help students integrate extracurricular activities into their studies, Rinehart said.

Atizaz Ahmed, consulate general of Pakistan, spoke about the country’s economic development, the war on terror and modernization of the region.

“We have seen a dramatic shift from a culture of agriculture to a culture of knowledge in Pakistan,” Ahmed said. “We are turning the economic corner.”

In response to audience concerns about low numbers of international students in the country, Ahmed said more activities are needed to educate students abroad about studying in the United States.

The event also featured an audience-participation game in which couples guessed their spouses’ answers to questions. The game was followed by Pakistani pop and rock music by Aahat, a band made up of Pakistani Student Association members.