NEW YORK - Despite the deepening political crisis and worsening law and order situation in their homeland, Pakistani-Americans kept their morale up and turned out in big numbers for the annual Independence Day parade in New York City on Sunday afternoon. Men, women and children - sporting national dresses - participated in this annual event with enthusiasm that reflected the vibrancy of Pakistani society and richness of their culture. They warmly exchanged Independence Day greetings, but uppermost in everyone's mind was their concern over Pakistan's slide in almost every field and the absence of any good news from home. Indeed, their conversations mostly centred on the governing coalition's ineffectiveness in dealing with the serious challenges facing the country. Raising "Pakistan Zinda bad" slogans and waving the national flag, the Pakistanis warmly cheered the parade as it moved down one of New York City's main avenues. The route from Madison Avenue's 41 street to 23 street was decorated with Pakistani and American flags. The marchers then gathered to hear parade leaders underline the significance of the day and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's golden words to the new nation: Unity, Faith and Discipline. Pakistan's Consul General Mohsin Razi, who was the Grand Marshal of the parade, urged the Pakistani community to  maintain unity in their ranks and work for welfare of its members. He emphasized that they should abide by the laws of the land and through their exemplary conduct improve the image of Pakistan. There were no national figures at the parade nor any important American personalities. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who usually attends ethnic parades, did not come. Also absent were senators and congressmen even though Pakistan is branded as a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.  Sixteen decorated floats, with some depicting Pakistan's progress in various fields, while others sponsored by local Pakistani businesses, also wound their way down the avenue. Bands on the floats struck up patriotic songs. The high point of the parade was a cultural programme. Prominent Artists from Pakistan, including Shazia Khusk, Asiya Khan, Amanat Ali, Humaira Channa, Saeed Sikki enthralled the crowd with their hit songs. The Pakistan Day Parade Committee organized the event in which many people were involved.  The committee is headed by Chairman Munir Lodhi and includes Zakir Siddiqui, General Secretary and Muzaffar Shah, Convener. This time, Pakistani-American attorneys also set up a stall, among others. They were collecting signatures for a petition calling for the restoration of the judges deposed by former president Pervez Mushharaf last November. Another petition called for justice for Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Centre.