More than 350 Pakistani students descended on the historic River Thames in colourful traditional Pakistani clothes and bright faces for an evening of desi food, laughter and music.
M.V Dixie Queen, one of the largest and most luxurious boats that sail on the river Thames, was especially hired for this occasion to take the students and their friends on a four-hour-long return trip, setting off from near the Tower Bridge an hour before sunset, and then passing alongside the iconic London landmarks.
The “Pakistan Summer Boat Party” was organised by the Oxford University Pakistan Society in collaboration with the Pakistan student societies at the London School of Economics (LSE) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). The spirit of the event was “work hard, party harder” but this was an occasion which also gave an opportunity to the friends and relatives of the students to make their way to the flotilla and enjoy a scenic trip and get to know each other.
The students described the event as a welcome retreat after all the hard work during the recently concluded academic year.
Adnan Rafiq, main organizer of the party, told the Instep that his team had worked hard to ensure that the ticket prices are kept at a minimum to allow as many students to join the party as possible. “As you can see, Pakistani student from every major UK universities has representation here today. We ensured that families of the students are also welcomed and that's the reason one of the floors of the double decker boat was designated as a family friendly zone.”
Students cheered and danced when the iconic Tower Bridge in London had to be opened twice exclusively for the M.V. Dixie Queen to pass. At the outer deck, students assembled to see the incredible sight of the bridge opening up and letting the flotilla with Pakistani flag hoisted high to pass. The flotilla passed along known London monuments such as the O2 Arena, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, The Big Ben, BT Tower, St. Paul's Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament.
The participants expressed their delight at being at the party and immensely enjoyed the entertainment which also included a live act by the Brit Asia Superstar finalist Ali Abbas who mesmerised the audience by his own songs and famous Pakistani cover songs.
The students danced the last hour away as the resident DJ played Punjabi and Urdu dance themed songs. Adnan confirmed that this was one of the series of events organised this year by the Oxford University Pakistan Society along with its partners to bring Pakistani students studying in the UK together.
He remarked: “These events are a testament of the zeal and the spirit in the emerging youth in Pakistan that constitutes over 60% of the country's population. The country can be served well by channelling this passion and energy into productive activities leading to the betterment of the lives of millions of people in Pakistan.