NRI writer and filmmaker Sangeeta Datta, well known TV personality Meera Syal and publicity in-charge of Bombay Dreams Suman Buchar were among 13 recipients of the Nazia Hassan Awards for their outstanding contribution in their respective fields.
A galaxy of speakers including Lord Swraj Paul, NRI Industrialist and British Ambassador for Overseas Business, Baroness Shreila Flather, Baroness Uddin, Mohammad Sarwar and Khalid Mahmood, both MPs, paid rich tributes to Nazia who shot to fame with her maiden song Aap Jaisa Koi Meri Zindagi Main Aaye for the Bollywood film Qurbani.
The award ceremony held at the Attlee Suite of the House of Commons in London on Wednesday night, also coincided with the launch of the Nazia Hassan Foundation, by Nazia 's parents Basir Hassan, Muniza Basir and her brother Zoheb Hassan to promote the values she held dear to her heart such as care for the needy, especially vulnerable children.
Nazia died of cancer at the age of 35, on August 13, 2000.
In his brief address, Lord Paul said the most tragic thing parents could experience was the death of their child. He himself had undergone such a traumatic experience when he lost his daughter in 1968.
Eulogising the talents of Nazia, Lord Paul said "we in the Asian community are very proud of her" and congratulated Basir and Muniza for setting up the foundation.
The other recipient of the awards were Sunny Hundal, (Journalist and creator of website: Asians in Media), Shahid Malik (politics), Salman Asif (Director and Producer), Ruby McGregor Smith (business), Asad Khan (sport), Amber Sajid (designer), Reena Bhardwaj (singer), Pinache Khan (performing arts), Amina Ansari (artist) and Pramela Synnanyk (social work).
Press Counsellor in the Indian High Commission here Navdeep Suri said Nazia was an instant hit with Indians following her very first song rendered for Qurbani followed by Disco Diwane.
The Pakistan High Commissioner in UK Maleeha Lodhi said Nazia was truly a citizen of the world and daughter of Pakistan whose message was peace, brotherhood and harmony.
"Nazia tried to bring about a fusion between the east and the west, Khalid Mahmood, MP, said adding it was time India and Pakistan, instead of spending huge amounts on defence, utilised the funds for the education and welfare of their citizens.
Nazia was born in Pakistan, bred and educated in England and lived in the United States where she served as a political analyst at the United Nations. She was a combination of the best of the traditional values of the east and the intellectual advancement of the west, and became an icon representing this great fusion.
Nazia transcended political boundaries and passionately promoted harmony between culture, traditions and beliefs.
Nazia together with her brother Zoheb, pioneered and were the first to introduce pop and disco music to the youth of the Asian sub-continent. Their pulsating numbers were instant hits across the board earning them the status of the most successful Asian singing duo.
She believed in using "music for purpose" — to care for and champion the cause of the downtrodden and the under-privileged. Social Service was her real passion. She regularly organised Polio and eye camps, contributed to the establishment of mobile clinics, assisted in the running of the schools, and provided medical supplies.
Needy children were her focus. She was recommended as the UNICEF representative for children in Pakistan. Together with her brother Zoheb she launched a movement called "BAN" (Battle Against Narcotics) — an organisation established to campaign against drug abuse amongst the youth in Pakistan.