Shaik Jeelani Receives Presidential Honor

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

communitynewspictureTUSKEEGEE, AL–Dr. Shaik Jeelani,  Vice-President for Research and Sponsored Programs at Tuskeegee University, was honored with the Prediential Award for  Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.  He received his award at a White House ceremony on Dec. 12. 

Administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring is awarded by the White House to individuals and organizations in recognition of the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering–particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields.

Dr. Jeelani who has an impressive resume has contributed in many ways to the development of programs at Tuskegee. Dr. Jeelani played a leading role in the development of various curriculums and infrastructure in the School of Engineering and Architecture. He spearheaded the Infrastructure and curriculum development in the School of Engineering and Architecture through a $2.50 million grant from the Army Research Office. This effort resulted in the university’s obtaining full (six years) ABET accreditation for all its Engineering programs. He also wrote the proposal for funding of the first Endowed Chair in Materials Science and Engineering at Tuskegee University and spearheaded the development of the curriculum, recruitment of students and establishment of Tuskegee University’s first Ph.D. program in Materials Science and Engineering.

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My Education Key Fundraiser at Tawheed Center in Farmington

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

PB190152Sohail Khan of MyEducationKey.com, with many prominent supporters, described his website and performed a fundraiser this past Saturday evening at the Tawheed Center.  About 200 people attended the fundraiser.  Sohail Khan described the MyEducationKey project, emphasizing its themes of being useful to people everywhere, empowering people world-wide with high quality education–for everyone, everywhere.  The website provides all levels of education through video-taped lectures.  Interactive education is available from kindergarten through graduate school, including ACT/SAT prep, and professional development.  Instruction is provided by excellent professors. 

Some of the universities that have already contributed lecture series are MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, and more.

In the future, Mr. Khan explained to TMO, there may be degree programs available and possibly accounting, but for now students pursue their educations on the site on an ad hoc basis.

The site is perfect as a supplement for a separate educational system–high school students (including non-Muslims) through testimonials on the site have explained that they use Myeducationkey to cover holes in their understanding of what they have learned in their full time school.

Several of the evening’s speakers spoke of their deep happiness at being able to, in a sense, attend MIT for the purposes of learning a subject.  People in their sixties expressed the hope that in fact the site provided a way for them to continue to learn.

The site already has very impressive statistics.  13,500 video lessons have been uploaded to the site.  47,000 lectures have been watched.  The site has received 800,000 hits.  Students, (university and primary/secondary), in the US, Pakistan, India, and China, have sought knowledge through the site.

Future plans for the site include global outreach, courses of professional development, teachers being able to create their own courses, mobile apps, multiple languages, virtual classrooms, and much much more.

This is a project helpful to all of humanity that was started by Muslim insights and contributions, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Several educators including Dr. Mohammed Syed, Dr. Nasser Ahmed, and Mr. Saleem Khalid spoke of their admiration for the project.

If you are interested in donating, please visit myeducationkey.com.

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Marvi Memon Program

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Uncle E’s “Evil Quad” Stopping Pakistan Spring

Houston TX–“We need a Naya Pakistan, a New Pakistan”. This was the theme of the presentation of former Member of Pakistani Parliament Marvi Memon, as she spoke in front of a large gathering of guests invited at the Junior League by the World Affairs Council and Shehzad Bashir. Ms. Memon talked about the relations between USA and Pakistan at an all-time low.

Marvi Memon served in the National Assembly of Pakistan from March 2008 to June 2011. She resigned from her party and parliament sighting the corruption and incompetence in those around her and frustration with the system. She has recently launched a movement for rights and is galvanizing Pakistani’s to reject old politics and embrace clean politics.

She aspired: “Pakistan Spring may not reach the 90% of the population living under Uncle E’s “Evil Quad” (feudal, bureaucrats, army, and religious extremists), but if each one of young  people with access to social networks reaches out to at least 10 countrymen with no access, the message can become widespread.”

In a recent article, Ms. Memon has written that we dream of a Pakistan where all provinces will be woven together, as one country by just equitable power and resource sharing, and respect for each others’ diversity. Where the principles of federation are practiced versus just stated. Where the provinces will come together because of the ethos of Pakistaniyat that is non-existent today; this ethos was built on ‘unity, faith, discipline’ and humanitarian values.

Where each district’s natural and human resources are recorded, projected, increased, harnessed for the district, for the province and then for Pakistan. Where development occurs as a result of the need for standardized services versus political influence. Where development works together with climate change challenges.

A Pakistan which will cater for the backwardness of certain geographical areas by intelligent use of quota systems bringing all of Pakistan at par within a stipulated timeframe.

Where there will be food security, energy security, and water security for all. Where the local government delivers clean water, sewerage lines, electricity, gas, schools, healthcare centers and all civic amenities at standardized quality and rates across Pakistan.

A Pakistan which will give the poor safety nets on merit, instead of making them beggars. Which will promote higher education, vocational training and provide a link between education and employment.

A Pakistan which will reduce external interference, protect its sovereignty and move out of the aid trappings into self-sufficiency. Which will identify the enemies of Pakistan and either neutralize them through negotiation or eliminate them through force. Which will enforce the writ of State, disallow private militia, extend crackdown on criminal gangs inside political parties, and be tough on separatist forces. Which will not allow its territory to be used for launching attacks on other countries, nor will it allow them to launch strikes inside its own territory by having better writ of State. Which will rid Pakistan of the foreign occupying neo-colonial forces fast.

A Pakistan which will make headway in resolving all outstanding neighboring disputes (including Kashmir) and spread peace within and without, with zero tolerance for double games. Which will promote the economic network of dependencies and encourage healthy bilateral economic ties with all strategic partners. Which will concentrate on resolving all disputes with its neighbours, so that economic efficiencies are eliminated, and more education, more health, and more trade become regional buzz words.

A Pakistan which will ensure that the military will be under Parliament. A military which will maintain nuclear deterrence and a respectable versus overbearing conventional force after the government has made progress towards resolving its outstanding disputes. Where the military will have all provinces equally represented, where its professionalism ensures a steel defense for Pakistan’s borders, and where its cuts ensure contribution to social indicators.

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Saudis Turn Mecca into Vegas

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Historic and culturally important landmarks are being destroyed to make way for luxury hotels and malls, reports Jerome Taylor

SAUDI ARABIA/

A general view is seen of the Grand Mosque during the Muslim month of Ramadan in the holy city of Mecca August 20, 2011.  Saudi Arabia has begun the biggest expansion yet of the Grand Mosque, to raise its capacity to 2 million pilgrims, the state news agency SPA said. 

REUTERS/Hassan Ali

Behind closed doors–in places where the religious police cannot listen in–residents of Mecca are beginning to refer to their city as Las Vegas, and the moniker is not a compliment.

Over the past 10 years the holiest site in Islam has undergone a huge transformation, one that has divided opinion among Muslims all over the world.

Once a dusty desert town struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of pilgrims arriving for the annual Hajj, the city now soars above its surroundings with a glittering array of skyscrapers, shopping malls and luxury hotels.

To the al-Saud monarchy, Mecca is their vision of the future–a steel and concrete metropolis built on the proceeds of enormous oil wealth that showcases their national pride.

Yet growing numbers of citizens, particularly those living in the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, have looked on aghast as the nation’s archaeological heritage is trampled under a construction mania backed by hardline clerics who preach against the preservation of their own heritage. Mecca, once a place where the Prophet Muhammad (s) insisted all Muslims would be equal, has become a playground for the rich, critics say, where naked capitalism has usurped spirituality as the city’s raison d’être.

Few are willing to discuss their fears openly because of the risks associated with criticising official policy in the authoritarian kingdom. And, with the exceptions of Turkey and Iran, fellow Muslim nations have largely held their tongues for fear of of a diplomatic fallout and restrictions on their citizens’ pilgrimage visas. Western archaeologists are silent out of fear that the few sites they are allowed access to will be closed to them.

But a number of prominent Saudi archaeologists and historians are speaking up in the belief that the opportunity to save Saudi Arabia’s remaining historical sites is closing fast.

“No one has the balls to stand up and condemn this cultural vandalism,” says Dr Irfan al-Alawi who, as executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, has fought in vain to protect his country’s historical sites. “We have already lost 400-500 sites. I just hope it’s not too late to turn things around.”

Sami Angawi, a renowned Saudi expert on the region’s Islamic architecture, is equally concerned. “This is an absolute contradiction to the nature of Mecca and the sacredness of the house of God,” he told the Reuters news agency earlier this year. “Both [Mecca and Medina] are historically almost finished. You do not find anything except skyscrapers.”

Dr Alawi’s most pressing concern is the planned £690m expansion of the Grand Mosque, the most sacred site in Islam which contains the Kaaba–the black stone cube built by Ibrahim (Abraham) that Muslims face when they pray.

Construction officially began earlier this month with the country’s Justice Minister, Mohammed al-Eissa, exclaiming that the project would respect “the sacredness and glory of the location, which calls for the highest care and attention of the servants or Islam and Muslims”.

The 400,000 square metre development is being built to accommodate an extra 1.2 million pilgrims each year and will turn the Grand Mosque into the largest religious structure in the world. But the Islamic Heritage Foundation has compiled a list of key historical sites that they believe are now at risk from the ongoing development of Mecca, including the old Ottoman and Abbasi sections of the Grand Mosque, the house where the Prophet Muhammad (s) was born and the house where his paternal uncle Hamza grew up.

There is little argument that Mecca and Medina desperately need infrastructure development. Twelve million pilgrims visit the cities every year with the numbers expected to increase to 17 million by 2025.

But critics fear that the desire to expand the pilgrimage sites has allowed the authorities to ride roughshod over the area’s cultural heritage. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone.

The destruction has been aided by Wahabism, the austere interpretation of Islam that has served as the kingdom’s official religion ever since the al-Sauds rose to power across the Arabian Peninsula in the 19th century.

In the eyes of Wahabis, historical sites and shrines encourage “shirk”—the sin of idolatry or polytheism–and should be destroyed. When the al-Saud tribes swept through Mecca in the 1920s, the first thing they did was lay waste to cemeteries holding many of Islam’s important figures. They have been destroying the country’s heritage ever since.

Of the three sites the Saudis have allowed the UN to designate World Heritage Sites, none are related to Islam.

Those circling the Kaaba only need to look skywards to see the latest example of the Saudi monarchy’s insatiable appetite for architectural bling. At 1,972ft, the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, opened earlier this year, soars over the surrounding Grand Mosque, part of an enormous development of skyscrapers that will house five-star hotels for the minority of pilgrims rich enough to afford them.

To build the skyscraper city, the authorities dynamited an entire mountain and the Ottoman era Ajyad Fortress that lay on top of it. At the other end of the Grand Mosque complex, the house of the Prophet’s (s) first wife Khadijah has been turned into a toilet block. The fate of the house he was born in is uncertain. Also planned for demolition are the Grand Mosque’s Ottoman columns which dare to contain the names of the Prophet’s (s) companions, something hardline Wahabis detest.

For ordinary Meccans living in the mainly Ottoman-era town houses that make up much of what remains of the old city, development often means the loss of their family home.

Non-Muslims cannot visit Mecca and Medina, but The Independent was able to interview a number of citizens who expressed discontent over the way their town was changing. One young woman whose father recently had his house bulldozed described how her family was still waiting for compensation. “There was very little warning; they just came and told him that the house had to be bulldozed,” she said.

Another Meccan added: “If a prince of a member of the royal family wants to extend his palace he just does it. No one talks about it in public though. There’s such a climate of fear.”

Dr Alawi hopes the international community will finally begin to wake up to what is happening in the cradle of Islam. “We would never allow someone to destroy the Pyramids, so why are we letting Islam’s history disappear?”

Prophet’s (s) Wife’s House

The house of the Prophet’s (s) wife Khadijah was destroyed and replaced with a public toilet block. After lengthy negotiations the site was briefly excavated with artefacts found dating back to the Prophet’s  (s) time.

Expansion of the Grand Mosque

In order to accommodate the ever growing pilgrim numbers, the authorities have begun a £690m expansion. Houses have been pulled, and it is likely the old Ottoman and Abbasi columns will also go.

The Prophet’s (s) Birth House

The building where the Prophet (s) once lived lies just a few hundred yards  from the Grand Mosque. Currently a library, the fear is that it could suffer the same fate as his wife’s house when the mosque expands.

Royal Mecca Clocktower

In order to build the clock tower and its surrounding skyscrapers–most of which house luxury hotels–the Saudi authorities approved the destruction of an entire mountain and the Ottoman Ajyad Fortress that lay on top.

Also under threat

Bayt al-Mawlid

When the Wahabis took Mecca in the 1920s they destroyed the dome on top of the house where the Prophet Muhammad (s) was born. It was then used as a cattle market before being turned into a library after a campaign by Meccans. There are concerns that the expansion of the Grand Mosque will destroy it once more. The site has never been excavated by archaeologists.

Ottoman and Abasi columns of the Grand Mosque

Slated for demolition as part of the Grand Mosque expansion, these intricately carved columns date back to the 17th century and are the oldest surviving sections of Islam’s holiest site. Much to the chagrin of Wahabis, they are inscribed with the names of the Prophet’s (s) companions. Ottomon Mecca is now rapidly disappearing.

Al-Masjid al-Nawabi

For many years, hardline Wahabi clerics have had their sites set on the 15th century green dome that rests above the tomb holding the Prophet (s), Abu Bakr and Umar in Medina. The mosque is regarded as the second holiest site in Islam. Wahabis, however, believe marked graves are idolatrous. A pamphlet published in 2007 by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, endorsed by Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, stated that “the green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet’s  (s) Masjid.”

Jabal al-Nour

A mountain outside Mecca where Muhammad (s) received his first Koranic revelations. The Prophet (s) used to spend long spells in a cave called Hira. The cave is particularly popular among South Asian pilgrims who have carved steps up to its entrance and adorned the walls with graffiti. Religious hardliners are keen to dissuade pilgrims from congregating there and have mooted the idea of removing the steps and even destroying the mountain altogether.

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Gujarat Campaign “Fast” Lane

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, TMO

location_map_of_GujaratNEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD: The three-day fast of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, which concluded this Monday (September 19), has raised many eyebrows as well as questions. It is difficult for secular observers and critics to accept reasons given by Modi for his Sadbhavna (goodwill) fast, aimed towards “peace, unity and harmony.” Modi apparently has taken this step with the hope that its political importance and media coverage will help change his own image from that of a communal, extremist to a secular Indian who believes in development of all. In his words: “Every chief minister has a national role. My work is to do something good on Earth. It is for others to give it words.”

Dismissing “news” about this fast being a reflection of ambition to become the country’s prime minister, Modi said: “I want to tell the world that sabka saath, sabka vikas (cooperation of all, development of all) is the way of development. Gujarat has got a name in development. I have worked for development of all. I have given this an ideological base.”

The three-day fast has certainly helped Modi gain substantial media-coverage and socio-political attention. Yet, except for his own political colleagues, the others are not willing to believe Modi’s claims about development of “all.” Besides, three days, even three decades, are not sufficient to forget the 2002 Gujarat-carnage, when the state government failed to provide adequate security to Muslims who were targeted by right-winged elements linked with saffron brigade, with which Modi is also strongly associated. The wounds of Muslim sufferers have not healed yet and will never heal for those who lost their near and dear ones and possessions. The sufferers have not yet received any compensation. There has been no news of Gujarat government having played even a minor role in rehabilitating the troubled Muslims. The criminals have not yet received adequate punishment. In other words, justice and prospects of a better future in Gujarat still remain dismal for Muslims who faced the 2002-carnage. 

Despite Modi having begun his fast on his birthday (September 17), he claimed: “I have never celebrated my birthday. This is the only day of the year I don’t meet anyone, I don’t talk to anyone, I don’t celebrate my birthday. But because Saturday and Sunday was convenient, that’s why I chose this day, this has got nothing to do with my birthday.”

Modi is not unaware of the fact that Gujarat-carnage is projected as a dark chapter in history of India and his political image. Amazingly, the very politician who at one time justified and also allegedly played a prominent role in fuelling the communal carnage now talks in a totally different tone. Refusing to take any responsibility, Modi said: “What moral responsibility for riots am I being asked to take? My government did its best.” He even said: “I have suffered in my heart for those who suffered and were victims of the 2002 riots. We acted with power and toughness to get life back in order.”
Indicating that Gujarat will not witness the 2002-carnage again, Modi said: “I want to assure the country and all communities that we will not go below the parameters of humanity. Every second of my life is devoted to the people of the country.”

Around 30-40 years ago, “there was complete communal disharmony” provoking “violence and curfew” on even small discords leading to, as Modi said: “When a child was born he/she learnt the word curfew before learning mummy and papa.” Now, Modi claimed: “There is no sign of disharmony. Gujarat has realized the strength of brotherhood. And this learning has not come through any preaching or advice, but through the fruits of development. Our growth has assured us that unity is our strength.”

While Modi may have accepted and started saying that “communal politicking” is not his political agenda, his opponents, including political rivals, riot victims and social activists still refuse to accept his rhetoric. Several civil rights activists, a group called Jan Sangarsh Manch (JSM) and a large number of riot victims gathered near a mosque at Narodia Patia to protest against Modi’s Sadbhavana-fast. They called their demonstration Sachi Sadbhavna (True Goodwill). However, even before the event began, the policemen trooped in and detained more than 50 activists for several hours on the ground that they did not have the administration’s permission to protest (September 18).

Not willing to be outdone by Modi, Congress leaders in Gujarat began their fast an hour earlier than him. They also strongly criticized Modi for wasting taxpayers’ by holding a “five-star” fast. “If there is a justifiable cause for fast by the chief minister, we can understand it. He is saying this fast is for sadbhavna, but his fast is based on farce, falsehood and corruption,” Shankersinh Vaghela said.

While Modi held his fast in an air-conditioned hall, Vaghela and Arjun Modhwadia held theirs called, Satyagrah (for truth against misdeeds of Modi government) on a footpath in front of Sabarmati Ashram. Describing Modi’s fast as “corruption,” Vaghela said: “What was the necessity to spend several millions of public money? If he (Modi) wanted to fast, he could have done that at home also.” Modi’s fast was a tamasha (show), Vaghela said.

Questioning Modi’s claims of development, Vaghela listed several allegations of corruption against Gujarat government. Besides, he said: “The state public debt has mounted to billions, about which the people of Gujarat are not aware. This is the kind of development he is talking about.” “We want to show to the people that this is a corrupt government,” Vaghela said.

Referring to Gujarat-carnage, Vaghela said: “Now, Modi wants to project himself as a messiah of the minorities by undertaking such a fast and wants to show that he is their protector.”

Irrespective of what their actual intentions are, with Gujarat to go for assembly polls in 2012, clearly both the parties- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have begun their campaigns by making lots of voice about their “fasts.”

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Pakistan ‘Punished’ in Pipelineistan

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Pepe Escobar

2011-06-24T171720Z_969297450_GM1E76P03P101_RTRMADP_3_IRAN-PAKISTAN

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) meets his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari during an official meeting in Tehran June 24, 2011.

REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

Before the end of 2011, Pakistan will start working on its stretch of the IP (Iran-Pakistan) gas pipeline – according to Asim Hussain, Pakistan’s federal minister for petroleum and natural resources. The
1,092 kilometers of pipeline on the Iranian side are already in place.

IP, also known as “the peace pipeline”, was originally IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India). Although it badly needs gas for its economic expansion, faced with immense pressure by the George W Bush – and then Barack Obama – administrations, India still has not committed to the project, even after a nearly miraculous agreement for its construction was initialed in 2008.
More than 740 million cubic feet of gas per year will start flowing to Pakistan from Iran’s giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf by 2014. This is an immense development in the Pipelineistan “wars” in Eurasia. IP is a major node in the much-vaunted Asian Energy Security Grid – the progressive energy integration of Southwest, South, Central and East Asia that is the ultimate mantra for Eurasian players as diverse as Iran, China, India and the Central Asian “stans”.

Pakistan is an energy-poor, desperate customer of the grid. Becoming an energy transit country is Pakistan’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to transition from a near-failed state into an “energy corridor” to Asia and, why not, global markets.

And as pipelines function as an umbilical cord, the heart of the matter is that IP, and maybe IPI in the future, will do more than any form of US “aid” (or outright interference) to stabilize the Pakistan half of Obama’s AfPak theater of operations, and even possibly relieve it of its India obsession.

Another ‘axis of evil’?

This Pipelineistan development may go a long way to explain why the White House announced this past Sunday it was postponing US$800 million in military aid to Islamabad – more than a third of the annual such largess Pakistan receives from the US.

The burgeoning Pakistan-bashing industry in Washington may spin this as punishment related to the never-ending saga of Osama bin Laden being sheltered so close to Rawalpindi/Islamabad. But the measure may smack of desperation – and on top it do absolutely nothing to convince the Pakistani army to follow Washington’s agenda uncritically.

On Monday, the US State Department stressed once again that Washington expected Islamabad to do more in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency – otherwise it would not get its “aid” back. The usual diplomatic doublespeak of “constructive, collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship” remains on show – but that cannot mask the growing mistrust on both sides. The Pakistani military confirmed on the record it had not been warned of the “suspension”.

No less than $300 million of this blocked $800 million is for “American trainers” – that is, the Pentagon’s counter-insurgency brigade.

Moreover, Islamabad had already asked Washington not to send these people anymore; the fact is their methods are useless to fight the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked jihadis based in the tribal areas. Not to mention the preferred US method is the killer drone anyway.

The wall of mistrust is bound to reach Himalaya/Karakoram/Pamir proportions. Washington only sees Pakistan in “war on terror”, counter-terrorism terms. Since the coupling of the AfPak combo by the Obama administration, clearly Washington’s top war is in Pakistan – not in Afghanistan, which harbors just a handful of al-Qaeda jihadis.

Most “high-value al-Qaeda targets” are in the tribal areas in Pakistan – and they are, in a curious parallel to the Americans, essentially trainers. As for Afghanistan, it is most of all a neo-colonial North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) war against a Pashtun-majority “national liberation” movement – as Taliban leader Mullah Omar himself defined it.

Asia Times Online’s Saleem Shahzad – murdered in May – argued in his book Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban (full review coming later this week) that al-Qaeda’s master coup over the past few years was to fully relocate to the tribal areas, strengthen the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), and in a nutshell coordinate a massive Pashtun guerrilla war against the Pakistani army and the Americans – as a diversionist tactic. Al-Qaeda’s agenda – to export its caliphate-bound ideology to other parts of South and Central Asia – has nothing to do with the Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban, who fight to go back to power in Afghanistan.

Washington for its part wants a “stable” Afghanistan led by a convenient puppet, Hamid Karzai-style – so the holy grail (since the mid-1990s) can be achieved; the construction of IP’s rival, the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline, bypassing “evil” Iran.

And as far as Pakistan is concerned, Washington wants it to smash the Pashtun guerrillas inside their territory; otherwise the tribal areas will keep being droned to death – literally, with no regard whatsoever to territorial integrity.

No wonder the wall of mistrust will keep rising, because Islamabad’s agenda is not bound to change anytime soon. Pakistan’s Afghan policy implies Afghanistan as a vassal state – with a very weak military (what the US calls the Afghan National Force) and especially always unstable, and thus incapable of attacking the real heart of the matter: the Pashtunistan issue.

For Islamabad, Pashtun nationalism is an existential threat. So the Pakistani army may fight the Tehrik-e-Taliban-style Pashtun guerrillas, but with extreme care; otherwise Pashtuns on both side of the border may unite en masse and make a push to destabilize Islamabad for good.

On the other had, what Islamabad wants for Afghanistan is the Taliban back in power – just like the good old days of 1996-2001. That’s the opposite of what Washington wants; a long-range occupation, preferably via NATO, so the alliance may protect the TAPI pipeline, if it ever gets built. Moreover, for Washington “losing” Afghanistan and its key network of military bases so close to both China and Russia is simply unthinkable – according to the Pentagon’s full-spectrum dominance doctrine.

What’s going on at the moment is a complex war of positioning.

Pakistan’s Afghan policy – which also implies containing Indian influence in Afghanistan – won’t change. The Afghan Taliban will keep being encouraged as potential long-term allies – in the name of the unalterable “strategic depth” doctrine – and India will keep being regarded as the top strategic priority.

What IP will do is to embolden Islamabad even more – with Pakistan finally becoming a key transit corridor for Iranian gas, apart from using gas for its own needs. If India finally decides against IPI, China is ready to step on board – and build an extension from IP, parallel to the Karakoram highway, towards Xinjiang.

Either way, Pakistan wins – especially with increasing Chinese investment. Or with further Chinese military “aid”. That’s why the Pakistani army’s “suspension” by Washington is not bound to rattle too many nerves in Islamabad.

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ANALYSIS-India Eyes Diplomacy and Private Sector to Woo Africa

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Henry Foy and Aaron Maasho

NEW DELHI/ADDIS ABABA, May 27 (Reuters) – Bereft of China’s riches, India is banking on diplomacy, development and its entrepreneurial private sector to woo African nations to open markets and natural resources to Asia’s third-largest economy

New Delhi has promised billions of dollars in development support, financing for infrastructure projects and the building of educational and training institutes as it positions itself as the alternative to Beijing.

India enjoys historical ties with some African countries, but became a mere observer when China came calling for resources and energy, with financial riches New Delhi could not match.

China boasts foreign exchange reserves of more than $3 trillion, 10 times India’s $307 billion, and has aggressively used state-owned development banks to invest heavily in oil, gas and other resources across the continent.

But after being caught cold by China, and losing a series of bids for oil rights and infrastructure projects to its Asian rival, India is banking on a new approach to Africa that blends trade and investment with development economics.

“India’s approach is reciprocal, expecting access to resources in exchange for developing technology and training Africa’s human resources. That’s how India is different to other foreign powers,” said Suresh Kumar, head of the Department of African Studies, University of Delhi.

“In providing education, technology, development and security, India is a complete partner.”

Like China, India has posted high economic growth rates since 1990 and the economy in a country of 1.2 billion people is now expanding at more than 8 percent a year. Resources from Africa are seen as crucial to help sustain growth.

Total trade between India and African countries stood at $46 billion last year, still less than half of China’s $108 billion in 2008, but a huge increase on $3 billion in 2000-1. India says it will reach $70 billion by 2015.

Beijing also leads the way in diplomatic terms, with 42 embassies across sub-Saharan Africa, double India’s diplomatic presence of only 21 embassies, a report from the London-based Chatham House think-tank said.

Indian is keen to trumpet its cultural links with African countries, citing a shared history of imperialism and trade routes established hundreds of years ago.

The Indian diaspora in Africa tops 2 million people, but it is mainly concentrated in South Africa, the Indian Ocean and some countries along the Eastern seaboard such as Kenya.

“The private sector is pushing the Indian government to engage on Africa more consistently and to expand its network,” said Alex Vines, head of Chatham House’s Africa Programme.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on a six-day trip to Ethiopia and Tanzania this week, pledged $5 billion over three years in development support, $700 million for new institutions and training programmes and $300 million for an Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line.

“India can be blamed for waking up late to the African opportunity, but can make up for lost time by projecting itself as a more humane investor than its northern neighbour,” wrote India’s Hindustan Times newspaper in an editorial.

While India, and other emerging economies, see Africa as an important supplier and customer to drive growth, it is a sign of New Delhi’s growing global economic and political clout, that it is seeking to play a leading role in Africa’s development.

“Africa is determined to partner in India’s economic resurgence as India is committed to be a close partner in Africa’s renaissance,” said the declaration after the second Africa-India summit in Ethiopia this week.

India’s state-run oil firms are beginning to invest in countries including Nigeria and Kenya, coal and diamond firms have invested across the continent, and new embassies in Niger and Malawi have been opened to assist firms with securing uranium for India’s fast-growing nuclear power industry.

India is also keen to leverage its global expertise in the information technology, agriculture and human resource sectors in helping African countries, many of which face similar developmental hurdles that India itself is grappling with.

While China has snapped up resources through governmental agreements, India’s government wants the private sector to spearhead the push to secure investments across the continent.

“India’s engagement with Africa is completely different with that of China. With China its state-to-state, even if the investors are private companies,” said Zemedeneh Negatu, Ernst & Young’s Managing Partner for Ethiopia.

Indian telecoms firm Bharti Airtel spent $9 billion acquiring Zain’s African assets last year, with a view to implementing strategies in Africa that were developed in the world’s fastest-growing mobile market.

Largely thanks to the Bharti deal, India was the most acquisitive nation in Africa in 2010.

With African consumer spending set to nearly double to $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to McKinsey and Co., Indian consumer goods makers are also pushing hard across the continent.

Godrej Consumer has bought personal care products makers in Nigeria and South Africa, while Dabur India, Marico and Emami have also bought assets.

“India’s engagement with Africa in the economic sense will be driven by the private sector,” said H.H. Viswanathan of the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

“The majority of the top 10 Indian companies in Africa are private firms, not state-run like the Chinese firms.”

Development assistance aside, as the Indian private sector expands in Africa, the continent is also destined to benefit from job creation as companies seek lower production costs.

“Labour costs have become more and more expensive in China and India. Chinese and Indian companies are starting look at destinations where they can do their things cost-competitively,” said Ernst & Young’s Zemedeneh.

“That’s where Africa benefits.” (Editing by David Clarke)

13-24

20th Century Scientists and Thinkers: Lotfi Asker Zadeh

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

LEGANERD_037679Lotfi Asker Zadeh was born in 1921, in Baku, a city on the Caspian Sea in the  Republic of Azerbaijan.  His father, Rahim Aliasker Zadeh was a correspondent for Iranian newspapers and also an importer-exporter. Zadeh and his parents moved to Tehran, Iran in 1931. After completing his high school diploma he chose University of Tehran and graduated  with Bachelor of Science degree in  electrical engineering.

During the year after his graduation, Zadeh worked with his father supplying construction materials to the US. Army in Iran. His contacts with Americans made him to emigrate to  United States .  In the year 1944, he enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  which awarded him an MA in electrical engineering . He entered the doctoral program at Columbia University and received his PhD in electrical engineering in the year  1949. Rising from instructor to professor of electrical engineering, he was on staff at Columbia for thirteen years, and finally  he moved on to the University of California at Berkeley where retired as a  chairman of the electrical engineering.

Lotfi Asker Zadeh, who described himself  as an American, mathematically oriented, electrical engineer of Iranian descent,  is responsible for the development of fuzzy logic and fuzzy set theory. He is also known for his research in system theory, information processing, artificial intelligence, expert systems, natural language understanding  and the theory of evidence. His fuzzy theory was enthusiastically received and applied in Japan, China, and several European countries.   Industrial applications have begun to appear in US. organizations as well. The most important application of the fuzzy theory which is developed by  AT&T is the  ‘Expert System’ on a chip.   Zadeh received the prestigious  award   to honor him for the  advancement of technology  from the Honda Foundation of Japan in the year1989. The same year Japan’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, along with almost fifty corporate sponsors, opened a laboratory for International Fuzzy Engineering Research  with a budget of approximately 40 million dollars.  Six months after its initiation, Zadeh became an advisor to  this laboratory. He is also credited,  for  pioneering the development of the z-transform method in discrete time signal processing and analysis. These methods are now standard in digital signal processing, digital control, and other discrete-time systems used in industry and research.

Zadeh’s research has earned him many honors and awards, including the Congress Award from the International Congress on Applied Systems, Research and Cybernetics (1980), the Outstanding Paper Award from the International Symposium on Multiple-valued Logic (1984), and the Berkeley Citation, from the University of California at Berkeley (1991).

Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

13-21

Mayor Omar Ahmad Passes Away

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

OmarAmadbwSAN CARLOS, CA–The news will be read with profound sadness that Mayor Omar Ahmad of San Carlos City, California, passed away on on the morning of May 10th at the age of 46.

A widely respected politician, busineman, and community leader he will be missed by one and all. He was elected to the San Carlos City Council in November 2007.  He had previously served as a member of the City’s Economic Development Advisory Commission (EDAC).  While on the City Council, Omar was selected to serve as the Mayor of San Carlos in November by his fellow Council Members. 

During his term on the City Council, Ahmad also served on several committees and boards including the Airport Roundtable, Belmont-San Carlos Fire Commission, C/CAG Airport Land Use Committee (ALUC), Caltrain Board of Directors, San Mateo County Council of Cities, Economic Development Advisory Commission (EDAC) (Council Liaison), Harbor Industrial Association (HIA Council Liaison), Peninsula Congestion Management Relief Alliance,  San Carlos Green (Council Liaison) and SamTrans Board of Directors (Council of Cities Appointment).

He was a well known entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, having been involved in the start up of a number of companies over the years including the Discovery Channel, @Home, Trusted ID, Grand Central Communications, Napster, Netscape and most recently as the co-founder and CEO of SynCH Energy Corporation.

Ahmad was also deeply committed to his Islamic faith and guided the community in grooming the next generation of leaders. By practical example he showed how to balance faith in the mainstream politics. He took his oath of office in the presence of an Imam. Noted playwright Wajahat, who was close friend, observed: “In all his activities, he remained committed to his faith. He helped nurture and train Muslim-American leadership. He was a behind-the-scenes mover, who used his vast entrepreneurial experience to make sure the next generation would be able to build real, lasting community relationships with our neighbors. We admired him, not because he was Muslim, but because being Muslim made him do admirable things.

When we think of Muslim-America, we think of Omar. There was no distinction for him between his faith and his country, and he sought to do right by both. When we think of role-models for our community, we think of Omar. He gave only what was best—and he gave it everyday for everyone, regardless of their color or religion.”

City Manager Jeff Maltbie said “Those of us at City Hall who had the opportunity to work with and get to know him are devastated by his loss.  Omar’s dedication to the citizens of San Carlos and his passion for democracy will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

Ahmad is survived by Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad (father), Nadira Ahmad (mother) and his two sisters (Fataima Warner and Leah Berry). The City  lowered the flags in front of City buildings to half staff in honor of Omar Ahmad.  The State Senate and State Assembly in Sacramento will adjourn in honor of Omar Ahmad this week.

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Kerim Kerimov

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

Vostok-1 launch, 12 April 1961

vostok-1_launchKerim Kerimov was born in the year 1917 in a Muslim family of an engineering background in Baku, Azerbaijan then part of the Russia. After graduation from the Azerbaijan Industrial Institute in 1942, he continued his education at Dzerzhinsky Artillery Academy, where he committed himself to design and development of rocket systems. An expert in rocket technology, he worked during World War II on the inspection and acceptance of the famous Katyusha rocket launchers. His work was honored with the Order of the Red Star. After his  retirement in 1991 he worked as a Consultant to the Main Space Flights Control Center of the Russian Federal Space Agency. General Kerim Kerimov died March 29, 2003 in Moscow, at the age of 85.

Kerim Kerimov was one the great rocket scientist of the Soviet Union and he is considered as the father of Soviet Rocketry.  He was one of the lead architects behind the string of Soviet successes that stunned the world from the late 1950s – from the launch of the first satellite, the Sputnik  in 1957. The first human spaceflight, Yuri Gagarin’s 108-minute trip around the globe aboard the Vostok  in 1961,  the first fully automated space docking of Cosmos 186 and Cosmos 188 in 1967. He also involved  in building the  first space stations, the Salyut and Mir series from 1971 to 1991. Kerim Kerimov  was involved in Soviet aeronautics from its inception. After World War II, Kerimov worked on the Soviet inter-continental ballistic missile program, rising by 1960 to head the   Missile Weapons  Program.  Along with other rocketry experts, he was sent to Germany in 1946 to collect information on the German V-2 rocket. In 1964 he became head of the newly formed Central Directorate of the Space Forces  of the USSR Ministry of Defense. Following the death of Sergei Korolev in 1966, Kerimov was appointed Chairman of the State Commission on Piloted Flights and remained Chairman  for 25 years . He supervised every stage of development and operation of both manned space complexes as well as unmanned interplanetary stations for former Soviet Union. Kerimov was also the Head of Chief Directorate of the Ministry of General Machine Building in 1965-1974, which was engaged in creation of rocket systems.

As in the case of other Soviet space pioneers, the Soviet authorities for many years refused to disclose Kerimov’s identity to the public. At televised space launchings, cameras always focused on the cosmonauts and not the person to whom they reported their readiness to carry out the mission.  Kerimov was a secret general, he was always hidden from the camera’s view; only his voice was broadcast.  Until 1987, even Azerbaijanis did not know that the man holding the Number One position in aerospace was an Azerbaijani Muslim. His name remained a secret until era of glasnost in Soviet Union, when he was first mentioned in Pravda newspaper in 1987.

He wrote a book; The Way to Space, a history of the Soviet space program in which he describes the entire birth and development of the aerospace industry of the former Soviet Union.  Kerim Kerimov was a Hero of Socialist Labor, laureate of Stalin, Lenin and State prizes of the Soviet Union..

13-18

Origins of the Poisoning of the Western Mind Against Islam

April 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The traumatic experience of the Crusades gave Europe its cultural awareness and its unity; but this same experience was destined henceforth also to provide the false colour in which Islam was to appear to Western eyes ..

By Muhammad Asad

22480_239488602349_743532349_3145733_2248612_n

Muhammad Asad, Leopold Weiss, was born in Livow, Austria (later Poland) in 1900, and at the age of 22 made his first visit to the Middle East.

After his conversion to Islam he traveled and worked throughout the Muslim world, from North Africa to as far East as Afghanistan. After years of devoted study he became one of the leading Muslim scholars of our age.

Following is an excerpt from the introduction to his book “The Road to Mecca” in which he outlines a discussion about the root causes of bias against Islam and the Muslim world in the West with a non-Muslim friend. He describes his friend as “an American friend of mine – a man of considerable intellectual attainments and a scholarly bent of mind.”

Although he wrote this in 1954, you can decide if it is still valid today.

When it comes to Islam – Western equanimity is almost invariably disturbed by an emotional bias. Is it perhaps, I sometimes wonder, because the values of Islam are close enough to those of the West to constitute a potential challenge to many Western concepts of spiritual and social life?’

And I went on to tell him [non-Muslim friend of Muhammad Asad] of a theory which I had conceived some years ago – a theory that might perhaps help one to understand better the deep-seated prejudice against Islam so often to be found in Western literature and contemporary thought. ‘To find a truly convincing explanation of this prejudice I said, ‘one has to look far backward into history and try to comprehend the psychological background of the earliest relations between the Western and the Muslim worlds. What Occidentals think and feel about Islam today is rooted in impressions that were born during the Crusades.’

‘The Crusades!’ exclaimed my friend. ‘You don’t mean to say that what happened nearly a thousand years ago could still have an effect on people of the twentieth century?’

‘But it does! I know it sounds incredible; but don’t you remember the incredulity which greeted the early discoveries of the psychoanalysts when they tried to show that much of the emotional life of a mature person and most of those seemingly unaccountable leanings, tastes and prejudices comprised in the term “idiosyncrasies”- can be traced back to the experiences of his most formative age, his early childhood?

Well, are nations and civilizations anything but collective individuals? Their development also is bound up with the experiences of their early childhood. As with children, those experiences may have been pleasant or unpleasant; they may have been perfectly rational or, alternatively, due to the child’s naive misinterpretation of an event:

the moulding effect of every such experience depends primarily on its original intensity. The century immediately preceding the Crusades, that is, the end of the first millennium of the Christian era, might well be described as the early childhood of Western civilization . . .’

I proceeded to remind my friend – himself an historian – that this had been the age when, for the first time since the dark centuries that followed the breakup of Imperial Rome, Europe was beginning to see its own cultural way. Independently of the almost forgotten Roman heritage, new literatures were just then coming into existence in the European vernaculars; inspired by the religious experience of Western Christianity, fine arts were slowly awakening from the lethargy caused by the warlike migrations of the Goths, Huns and Avars; out of the crude conditions of the early Middle Ages, a new cultural world was emerging. It was at that critical, extremely sensitive stage of its development that Europe received its most formidable shock – in modern parlance, a ‘trauma’ – in the shape of the Crusades.

The Crusades were the strongest collective impression on a civilization that had just begun to be conscious of itself. Historically speaking, they represented Europe’s earliest – and entirely successful – attempt to view itself under the aspect of cultural unity. Nothing that Europe has experienced before or after could compare with the enthusiasm which the First Crusade brought into being. A wave of intoxication swept over the Continent, an elation which for the first time overstepped the barriers between states and tribes and classes.

Before then, there had been Franks and Saxons and Germans, Burgundians and Sicilians, Normans and Lombards – a medley of tribes and races with scarcely anything in common but the fact that most of their feudal kingdoms and principalities were remnants of the Roman Empire and that all of them professed the Christian faith: but in the Crusades, and through them, the religious bond was elevated to a new plane, a cause common to all Europeans alik e – the politico-religious concept of ‘Christendom’, which in its turn gave birth to the cultural concept of ‘Europe’.

When, in his famous speech at Clermont, in November, 1095, Pope Urban II exhorted the Christians to make war upon the ‘wicked race’ that held the Holy Land, he enunciated – probably without knowing it himself – the charter of Western civilization.

The traumatic experience of the Crusades gave Europe its cultural awareness and its unity; but this same experience was destined henceforth also to provide the false colour in which Islam was to appear to Western eyes. Not simply because the Crusades meant war and bloodshed. So many wars have been waged between nations and subsequently forgotten, and so many animosities which in their time seemed ineradicable have later turned into friendships.

The damage caused by the Crusades was not restricted to a clash of weapons: it was, first and foremost, an intellectual damage – the poisoning of the Western mind against the Muslim world through a deliberate misrepresentation of the teachings and ideals of Islam. For, if the call for a crusade was to maintain its validity, the Prophet of the Muslims had, of necessity, to be stamped as the Anti-Christ and his religion depicted in the most lurid terms as a fount of immorality and Perversion. It was at the time of the Crusades that the ludicrous notion that slam was a religion of crude sensualism and brutal violence, of an observance of ritual instead of a purification of the heart entered the Western mind and remained there; and it was then that the name of the Prophet Muhammad (s) – the same Muhammad (s) who had insisted that his own followers respect the prophets of other religions-was contemptuously transformed by Europeans into an insult.

The age when the spirit of independent inquiry could raise its head was as yet far distant in Europe; it was easy for the powers-that-were to sow the dark seeds of hatred for a religion and civilization that was so different from the religion and civilization of the West. Thus it was no accident that the fiery Chanson da Roland, which describes the legendary victory of Christendom over the Muslim ‘heathen’ in southern France, was composed not at the time of those battles but three centuries later-to wit, shortly before the First Crusade – immediately to become a kind of ‘national anthem’ of Europe, and it is no accident, either, that this warlike epic marks the beginning of a European literature, as distinct from the earlier, localized literatures: for hostility toward Islam stood over the cradle of European civilization.

It would seem an irony of history that the age-old Western resentment against Islam, which was religious in origin, should still persist subconsciously at a time when religion has lost most of its hold on the imagination of Western man. This, however is not really surprising. We know that a person may completely lose the religious beliefs imparted to him in his childhood while, nevertheless, some particular emotion connected with those beliefs remains, irrationally, in force throughout his later life ‘-and this,’ I concluded, ‘is precisely what happened to that collective personality, Western civilization. The shadow of the Crusades hovers over the West to this day; and all its reaction toward Islam and the Muslim world bear distinct traces of that die-hard ghost …’

My friend remained silent for a long time. I can still see his tall, lanky figure pacing up and down the room, his hands in his coat pockets, shaking his head as if puzzled, and finally saying: ‘There may be something in what you say . .. indeed, there may be, although I am not in a position to judge your “theory” offhand … But in any case, in the light of what you yourself have just told me, don’t you realize that your life, which to you seems so very simple and uncomplicated, must appear very strange and unusual to Westerners? Could you not perhaps share some of your own experiences with them? Why don’t you write your autobiography? I am sure it would make fascinating reading!’

Laughingly I replied: ‘Well, I might perhaps let myself be persuaded to leave the Foreign Service and write such a book. After all, writing is my original profession

In the following weeks and months my joking response imperceptibly lost the aspect of a joke. I began to think seriously about setting down the story of my life and thus helping, in however small a measure, to lift the heavy veil which separates Islam and its culture from the Occidental mind. My way to Islam had been in many respects unique: I had not become a Muslim because I had lived for a long time among Muslims – on the contrary, I decided to live among them because I had embraced Islam.

Might I not, by communicating my very personal experiences to Western readers, contribute more to a mutual understanding between the Islamic and Western worlds than I could by continuing in a diplomatic position which might be filled equally well by other countrymen of mine? After all, any intelligent man could be Pakistan’s Minister to the United Nations – but how many men were able to talk to Westerners about Islam as I could? I was a Muslim – but I was also of Western origin: and thus I could speak the intellectual languages of both Islam and the West. .

And so, toward the end of 1952,1 resigned from the Pakistan Foreign Service and started to write this book. Whether it is as ‘fascinating reading’ as my American friend anticipated, I cannot say. I could do no more than try to retrace from memory – with the help of only a few old notes, disjointed diary entries and some of the newspaper articles I had written at the time-the tangled lines of a development that stretched over many years and over vast expanses of geographical space.

13-17

Helping Hand (USA) Signs MoU with Medical Bridges Inc.

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Picture 3243

Picture 3244

U. S. South Central Region Coordinator for the Helping Hand (USA) in Houston, ILyas Hasan Choudry; President, CEO of Medical Bridges Dorothy Bolettieri…

Dorothy Bolettieri, President, CEO of Medical Bridges; Steve Bolfing; Steven Bolfing, Business Development Manager; and Kourtnei Ramirez, Special Projects Coordinator for Medical Bridges…

The Helping Hand (USA) For Relief & Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Houston based Medical Bridges, Inc., according to which between April and December 2011, Helping Hand (USA) will be sending to several countries, where most needed; ten large 40-Feet containers of medical equipment and supplies provided by Medical Bridges. Total shipment will be approximately 3-to-4 million dollars.

Tentatively the beneficiary countries will include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Haiti, and Pakistan. Also there is a chance to include the historical city of “Caravan” in Tunisia as one of the places for a container (determination on this will soon be made).

In a statement, the U. S. South Central Region Coordinator for the Helping Hand (USA) in Houston, ILyas Hasan Choudry has said: “Helping Hand (USA) in partnership with Medical Bridges will send donated good quality medical equipment and supplies of 3-to-4 million dollars worth. Hundreds and thousands of less fortunate brothers and sisters in humanity will benefit from this effort and several lives will be saved. All of these people will remember in their prayers the patrons, supporters, donors, volunteers, and staff of Helping Hand (USA). I want to appeal to all the blessed persons to whole-heartedly contribute towards the Helping Hand’s discretionary fund by visiting www.HHRD.Org

At a simple occasion at the office of Medical Bridges, the U. S. South Central Region Coordinator for the Helping Hand (USA) For Relief & Development, ILyas Hasan Choudry; and Dorothy Bolettieri, President and CEO of Medical Bridges; signed the MoU documents. Also present were Steven Bolfing, Business Development Manager; and Kourtnei Ramirez, Special Projects Coordinator for Medical Bridges.

In a communiqué to Helping Hand at the eve of signing of the MoU, Dorothy Bolettieri of Medical Bridges wrote: “I’m delighted that the MOU has been approved and that we will work together to help improve the health-care delivery in areas that so desperately need support and assistance.”

Steven Bolfing wrote: “Medical Bridges would not be able to assist humanity without organizations such as yours (Helping Hand USA).”

Talking to our media representative, ILyas Hasan Choudry has said: “We are really appreciative of the efforts and services of Medical Bridges towards the overall health of the humanity. We are extremely delighted to partner with them. By the Grace of God, this effort will save many lives; and in our faith it has been informed to us in Quran that if we will save the lives of one person, it is as if we have saved the lives of the whole humanity.”

Other than this, Helping Hand (USA) will also be sending from their headquarter in Detroit, Michigan; large 40-Feet containers of medical equipments’ and supplies’ provided by the World Medical Relief of Michigan.

Helping Hand (USA) also has their own In-Kind Donation Centers in Ontario California; Houston Texas; Sanford Florida; Ijamsville Maryland; Somerset New Jersey; and Bay Shore New York; where medical equipments’ & supplies’; household, fresh non-perishable food, & hygiene items; new clothes, comforters, blankets, jackets; and many other things are accepted on almost daily basis.
Addresses and phone numbers of these In-Kind Donation Centers can be found at www.HHRD.Org

Other than of course these material donations, Helping Hand (USA) is requesting to monetarily support this In-Kind Donation Program by contributing towards the Helping Hand (USA) Discretionary Fund at www.HHRD.Org – This way the patrons of Helping Hand (USA) will receive the most necessary prayers of hundreds and thousands, whose lives will be saved and bettered by this useful program.

For more information, one can call 1-832-275-0786 or 1-888-808-HELP(4357).

13-16

Bahrain Foreign Minister’s India Visit

April 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, TMO

NEW DELHI: Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa was in India last month as a part of diplomatic drive to assure the Indian government about the security of Indians living there. He held detailed discussions with his Indian counterpart SM Krishna on issues of mutual interest, including recent developments in Bahrain and the region (March 30). Ahead of their talks, the two ministers laid stress on “traditionally friendly relations” between India and Bahrain, “which are based on historical and civilizational ties.” This “long standing relationship” is reflected by presence of a large Indian community in Bahrain.

During their meeting, over lunch hosted by India in his honor, Bahraini foreign minister gave “firm assurance” about “safety and security of Indian community” in Bahrain. He also appreciated their contribution to “progress and development of Bahrain.” There are around 350,000 Indians in Bahrain. Khalid drew Krishna’s attention to his having met more than 200 Indians in Manama on 26th March, 2011. On his part, Krishna thanked Khalid for his reassurance with regard to Indian community’s well being. The former also expressed confidence that “law-abiding Indian community would continue to be a partner in Bahrain’s growth story well into the future.”

Referring to recent developments in Bahrain, Krishna expressed the hope that “peaceful resolution of all issues through dialogue would pave the way for continued development and prosperity of friendly people of Bahrain.”

During an exclusive interview with this scribe, Khalid acknowledged: “There is no doubt a wave of transformation in the Arab world.” Accepting that winds of transformation were sweeping across the region, he pointed to the human development index in the six Gulf Coordination Council countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar – being much higher than that of other countries. In other parts of the region, the people on the lower end of the scale were vying for a change, he said. Referring specifically to Bahrain, he said that though sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shias have prevailed for “around 1400 years,” they have taken such a major turn for first time, reaching the “stage of polarization.” “Sectarian turn is the biggest threat to whole region,” he said.

Laying stress that there was a need for “true transformation” in many parts of the area, Khalid expressed that this “movement” had been “hijacked and had taken a sectarian turn” between Sunnis and Shias. Expressing favor for a political dialogue to sort out the problem, he said: “Political dialogue would be way forward in future.” The priority at present was to maintain law and order, Khalid emphasized.

Refuting the impression generated about Bahrain taking help of Saudi forces to control protestors, Khalid said that these belonged to Peninsula Shield Force. “We take our security seriously,” he stated. The troops would stay as long as they were needed, he said. Khalid specified that their help was essential to prevent the tension from escalating into a civil strife. The situation was “under control,” he said.

A “very negligible” population had left Bahrain because of tension in the country, he said. Though certain elements’ aim was to scare the expat community, Indians were not targeted, he emphasized. “I am visiting India before Europe or America. This is more important. We are regional stakeholders. Without India, we do not have a solution. We need to reassure India about the Indian community in Bahrain,” the minister asserted.

Elaborating on security architecture in the region, Bahrain cannot envisage this without India, Khalid said. India’s Deputy National Security Advisor Vijaya Latha Reddy called on Khalid ahead of his meeting with Krishna. She discussed issues of bilateral interest with him.

Bahrain also favors a role for Pakistan as well as Iran. “We want Iran to be part of this security architecture. We want it to prosper and be as active as in the past as a responsible country in the region,” he said.

Without elaborating on diplomatic tension between Bahrain and Iran, Khalid categorically stated: “We are for good relations with Iran.” “The result of bad relations with a neighbor can be more lethal than that of a nuclear bomb,” he said.

Diplomatic tension between Bahrain and Iran has been marked by the former holding latter as responsible for provoking Shia-Sunni tension in the region. Bahrain has warned Iran to keep away from “meddling” in its internal affairs. On its part, Iran has strongly criticized the arrival of external troops in Bahrain.

Bahrain is also not pleased with external strikes supporting rebels in Libya. When asked to comment on this, Khalid said that Bahrain had no objection to maintaining a “no-fly zone” over Libya. He was, however, skeptical about role of external strikes. “We were a part of the GCC and Arab League resolutions supporting no-fly zone. But we feel there is no clarity whether external strikes can really help in protection of people and their security.”

This was Khalid’s second visit to India. His visit, according to official sources, “has strengthened the excellent relationship between the two countries.”

13-15

Community News (V11-I49)

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistani American doctors urged to develop homeland

NEW YORK, NY–Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon Saturday urged medical doctors of Pakistani descent to make their full contribution to American economic and political life as well as play their part in the development of their motherland, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Speaking at the annual dinner of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani descent of North America (APPNA), he lauded the services rendered by Pakistani-American doctors, and hoped that their fast-growing organization would emerge as a major force in the country.

The dinner, held in Uniondale on the Long Island, a New York suburb, was largely attended by APPNA members from all over the United States. Also present were U.S. Congressman Ed Town and Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi.

The newly-elected President of APPNA’s New York Chapter Dr. Asif  Rehman welcomed the guests and enumerated the association’s support- activities in Pakistan, especially during the 2005 devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan and in easing the suffering of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Swat.

In his remarks, Ambassador Haroon traced the development of U.S.-Pak relations from their inception, saying Pakistan had always given diplomatic, political and strategic support to the the United States without any quid pro quo.

He especially referred to the support provided by Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But he regretted that Pakistan was forgotton when the Soviets were forced to pullout of Afghanistan.

“Still, we have remained good friends of the United States,” the ambassador added.

Lilburn mosque plan denied

GWINNETT, GA–The Lilburn City Council voted down a plan last Wednesday night that would have allowed for a major expansion of a local mosque.

The mosque is on Lawrenceville Highway at Hood Road.

Residents argued the development would go against zoning laws designed to protect neighborhoods.

“It doesn’t matter what it was going to be, it didn’t belong in that area. It wasn’t zoned for that,” said Ilene Stongin-Garry, who’s against the expansion.
Attorney for the mosque said denying the project is a violation of the congregation’s first amendment right.

“They want to expand as other churches, as other religious institutions have been able to expand in your community. To deny them this right in unlawful,” said Doug Dillard, the mosque’s attorney.

Dillard vows to fight on, he’s going to take the case to federal court.

Arabic classes in more high schools in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL–The Chicago public schools will expand its Arabic-language program to three more high schools, thanks to a three-year federal grant of 888,000 U.S. dollars announced earlier this month.   Already, Arabic is offered at three Chicago high schools and is also offered at seven Chicago elementary schools and about 2,000 students take Arabic in Chicago’s schools, according to official sources.

The new federal grant will fund the expansion to three additional high schools in Chicago that have yet to be identified, the sources said.

The expansion will be enhanced by the use of technology-based instruction using the safari-blackboard virtual technology that will allow a teacher at one school to simultaneously offer a virtual class at another school as well. The teacher will change schools every two weeks so students will have personal interaction with a teacher.

11-49

PM’s Kashmir Visit: “Productive & Fruitful?”

November 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS) India Correspondent

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: Ironically, just when it seemed that Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was taking the right steps to win over Kashmiris in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the week ended with quite a few questioning the government’s intentions. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Kashmir last week (October 28-29), accompanied by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Railway Minister Mamata Bannerjee, Health & Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and New & Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah. Singh inaugurated the 12-km-long Anantnag-Qazigund rail link in south Kashmir. Besides, he reviewed the development efforts being taken by state government led by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Singh also held discussions with major political parties in the state.

Briefing media, after concluding his two-day visit, Singh described it as “productive and fruitful.” During their talks, he and Abdullah “took stock of the development efforts in various sectors and discussed ways and means of expediting the implementation of various central projects,” Singh said. In his discussions with other political leaders and various sections of civil society, Singh made an “appeal” for dialogue, which he hopes “will be reciprocated in the spirit in which it was made.” “We have to carry all stakeholders with us to achieve a permanent and peaceful reconciliation in Jammu & Kashmir so that we can concentrate on an ambitious development agenda that will lead to a full economic revival and reconstruction and create lot more jobs for the young people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Singh stated that he was returning to Delhi “fully satisfied” with his visit. “I believe that a new chapter is opening in the peace process in the state and we are turning a corner. We will extend full support to the efforts of the state government to fulfill the high expectations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir,” he said.
During his address, at the inauguration of the rail-link, Singh pointed out that his government has taken a number of steps for the state’s development. These include, Singh said, the “bold step of reviving the movement of goods and people across the Line of Control on the Srinagar – Muzaffarabad road and on the Poonch – Rawalakot road.” Accepting that a lot more needed to be done, he said: “We have to speed up the pace of development in the state. We have to reverse the brain drain that has denuded the state of many of its teachers, doctors, engineers and intellectuals. We have to create the conditions for them to return and to be the instruments of change and development. We want to strengthen the hands of the state government so that they can implement an ambitious development agenda.”

Singh outlined the central government’s to involve the state’s youth under the “Skill Development to Employment” program, directed towards training them as tourist escorts, developing Information Technology sector in J&K and setting up two central universities in the state- one in Jammu and one in Kashmir.

“The era of violence and terrorism is coming to an end. The public sentiment is for peace and for a peaceful resolution of all problems,” Singh pointed out. He laid stress that his government is “committed to having unconditional dialogue with whoever abjures violence.” On talks India has held with Pakistan, Singh said: “We had the most fruitful and productive discussions ever with the Government of Pakistan during the period 2004-07 when militancy and violence began to decline.” “For the first time in 60 years, people were able to travel by road across the LoC. Divided families were re-united at the border. Trade between the two sides of Kashmir began. In fact, our overall trade with Pakistan increased three times during 2004-07. The number of visas that we issued to Pakistanis doubled during the same period. An additional rail link was re-established. These are not small achievements given the history of our troubled relationship with Pakistan. Inside the valley, as militancy declined, trade, business and tourism began to pick up. We were moving in the right direction,” Singh said.

When there was a “feeling among the people that a durable and final peace was around the corner,” Singh said: “All the progress that we achieved has been repeatedly thwarted by acts of terrorism. The terrorists want permanent enmity to prevail between the two countries. The terrorists have misused the name of a peaceful and benevolent religion.” Before concluding his address, Singh appealed to the Pakistan government that the “hand of friendship that we have extended should be carried forward” in “interest of people of India and Pakistan.”

Undeniably, Singh’s Kashmir-visit suggests that his government is leaving no stone unturned for peace and development of the state. But the Kashmiris started questioning the same moves as the center decided a day later to stop pre-paid mobiles in J&K from November 1. An official release from the home ministry stated that the decision was taken because of “serious security concerns” which had risen as “proper verification” was not being done while providing pre-paid mobile connections (October 30).

Criticizing and questioning the sudden decision taken by the center, the Kashmiris asked as to why should they all suffer for “wrong doings” of a few militants. “Are all users of pre-paid mobile services being viewed as terrorists?” asked a Kashmiri student. Mehboob Beigh, a legislator of National Conference (NC), which heads the state government, said: “It is unwise to do this at a time when the PM has stressed on creating an atmosphere for peace.” Opposition leader, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti described the situation as “unfortunate” and sought the PM’s personal intervention to restore the service. The move negates the statements made by PM in his Kashmir visit, she said. On the one hand, she said, the “union government was claiming that the situation has improved in the state and on the other residents of this state have been denied facilities like mobile services in the name of security threats.”

“What kind of a message is being conveyed to industrialists and prospective investors across the country? That Kashmir is a state where terrorism is as high as before the mobile services were launched in the state in 2003?” asked a businessman. In the opinion of some, it would not have much of an impact, as people are likely to lobby and convert the existing pre-paid connections into post-paid ones.

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Community News (V11-I46)

November 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Ruhi Khan named VP of Acorda Therapeutics

HAWTHORNE, NY–Ruhi Khan recently named Vice President, Business Development, of Acorda Therapeutics reporting to President and CEO RonCohen, M.D. Previously, Ms. Khan was the Executive Director, Business Development at Acorda.

Before joining the Company, Ms. Khan was the Senior Director of Business Development at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals. While at Lexicon, she led the business development function for both in-licensing and out-licensing of programs, research stage collaborations, technology assessments, spin-outs and other strategic initiatives. She was also responsible for market research and market analysis for clinical product candidates. Prior to that, Ms. Khan was a Director at Fidelity Biosciences, the biotech venture capital investment division at

Fidelity Investments; in that capacity, she had operational management responsibilities at EnVivo Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company focused on the development of therapies for central nervous system disorders. Ms. Khan has a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School.

“I`m delighted to announce the promotion of Ruhi Khan to Vice President of Business Development,” Dr. Cohen said. “Ruhi`s first assignment after joining Acorda was to lead our process to obtain a commercialization partner for Fampridine-SR outside the U.S. She did an outstanding job of executing this process and concluding a great deal with an optimal partner, Biogen Idec. I expect Ruhi to continue to be a major contributor to Acorda`s future successes as we work to capitalize on business development opportunities and build shareholder value.”

Islamic Studies at Lehigh University hosts first speaker

The Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University  welcomed David Lelyveld, author and professor of history at William Paterson University, to give the center’s inaugural lecture in Linderman Library on Wednesday.

Lelyveld’slecture, “Sir Sayyid’s Dreams: Biography and Islamic Dream Interpretation in Nineteenth Century India,” focused on the life, accomplishments and dream interpretation of one of the most well known Muslim reformists in late colonial South Asia, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan.

The Center for Global Islamic Studies was launched in the fall of 2009 with the support and grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is an intellectual community committed to the study of Islamic civilization. “This four-year grant provides support for library acquisitions and faculty research,” said Robert Rozehnal, the director of the center and professor of religion studies. “Thanks to this grant, the center now has a real dynamism and direction.”

The grant also funds three visiting faculty positions: a professor of practice in Arabic, a visiting scholar and a pre-doctorate/post-doctorate scholar.

During their time at Lehigh, each visiting scholar will teach a range of courses in their respective fields, while contributing to the intellectual life and numerous activities of the center.

Lynchburg mosque to hold open house

LYNCHBURG, VA–The Greater Lynchburg Islamic Association is holding an open house this Saturday for everyone in  the community to come and learn  about Islam.

The mosque was opened last December and on average about thirty people attend the prayer services. Speaking to the media GLIA’s president, Maqsud Ahmad, said you’ll often hear in the media about those who are not representing the true image  of Islam.

“We want to tell them that you know we are just like you, we are as friendly as you are. We believe in one God, the same God you believe in.”

Mosque opposed once again in Gwinnett County

ATLANTA, GA–Gwinnett County Commissioners delay voting on a zoning application that would allow a mosque to move forward with its expansion.

The commission is considering a re-zoning application by the Darus Salam mosque. They want to build a 20,000 square-foot, two-story mosque with towers.

Neighbors against the mosque say the issue is traffic and parking.One woman told commissioners, “It is not about the mosque itself. It’s about how they conduct themselves toward the neighborhood.The mosque said they need the space to accommodate a growing number of worshipers. They have bought the surrounding property. In addition to the mosque, they are planning a small strip mall with stores downstairs and a library upstairs.County staff recommended the re-zoning application be denied. The Commission is delaying their vote.

Interfaith prayer service held in Toronto

TORONTO, CANADA–About 100 people from synagogues, mosques and churches gathered last week at the Church of the Transfiguration for an historic service of Evensong (the traditional Anglican late-afternoon/evening service), sponsored by the Neighbourhood Interfaith Group. The Reverend Canon Michael Burgess, incumbent, officiated at the service; Imam Dr. Abdul Hai Patel delivered a sermon; Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl of Beth Tzedec congregation recited a prayer, and Archbishop Terence E. Finlay, former Bishop of Toronto, gave the blessing.

“This interfaith Evensong service and kosher-halal reception is a unique way of bringing people of our Abrahamic faiths together,” said Bryan Beauchamp, chair of the Neighbourhood Interfaith Group, which represents five Christian denominations – Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and United Church – and three Jewish denominations – Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist.

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