Houston’s Positive Response For Pakistan Floods 2011

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Formed in Houston:  “Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts”

pakistanSeveral community based organizations in Houston, Texas, USA; came together this past weekend, to establish a collaborative to serve the humanity in dire needs suffering from Floods 2011 in Pakistan. This body is named the “Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts”; and its aims are to send monetary funds through members organizations working in the field in Sindh Pakistan, and to also send in-kind donations; all to benefit the humanity suffering from floods in Sindh Pakistan, where more than 7.50 million lives have been totally disturbed and projected to remain be disturbed in weeks and months to come.

Members of the Alliance as of Monday, September 19th, 2011 in alphabetical order are given below. More organizations are being approached and also being encouraged with this communiqué, to join this collaborative. For more information, one can call Saeed Sheikh, Coordinator of the Alliance at 1-281-948-1840 and/or ILyas Hasan Choudry, Secretary of the Alliance at 1-832-275-0786):

Pakistan Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund 2011 – Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) South Texas Chapter – Hashoo Foundation USA – Helping Hand [USA] For Relief & Development (HHRD) – Houston-Istanbul Sister City Association (HISCA) – Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) – Imran Khan Foundation (IKF) – Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) – Pakistani-American Council of Texas (PACT) – Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) – Raindrop Helping Hands – Raindrop Turkish House – Red Cross – Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) – Sun Charity – Voices Breaking Boundaries (VBB);

Media Partners: Pakistan Chronicle – Pakistan Journal – Pakistan News – Pakistan Times – Radio Houston – Radio Light Of Islam – Radio Shalimar – Muslim Observer…

The inaugural exploratory meeting started with recitation of Quran by Abdur Rauf Khan. After initial introductions of all the attendees, one of the persons, who had envisioned the idea of this Alliance, Saeed Sheikh talked about the importance and blessings in joint efforts to serve the humanity in dire needs in Pakistan due to the recent catastrophic floods.

ILyas Hasan Choudry gave an overall assessment of the damage in Sindh Pakistan due to these floods and ongoing efforts. He informed that these floods were different than last year, where floods came down from mountains giving time for people to relocate. Here rains came down in four spells, causing sudden and very high floods, which have never been seen in 51 years. So people did not get warning to relocate. Catastrophe is larger than last years’ flood, but somehow due to political, economical, and other natural & man-made catastrophes having hit Pakistan, USA and the world, media was late in picking up this news, especially the media in Pakistan.  Otherwise this tragedy had struck many people long time ago, like almost one month ago. 250+ persons died, 2.30-Million bales of cotton lost, almost all of the crops are destroyed in an area of  7-Millon Acres, more than 60,000 cattle heads perishing (whole livelihood of majority of common people in the area of twenty or more districts gone), and 750,000+ homes partially or completely destroyed. Water has come in so much quantity that it is projected by experts that it may take 30 to 45 days just for the water to recede. As such there is emergency relief work needed in terms of clean water, food, shelter, healthcare services, and psycho-social support for children, ladies, and elderly. After the first phase of one to two months, much long term rehabilitation will be needed. Local organizations at grassroots levels are working within the communities, where people are stranded due to water, while international NGOs with local offices are trying to bring people into cluster camps and providing their efforts.

Based on thorough discussion, following are the projects and programs that were decided for this alliance: Doing In-Kind donation drive for three to four weeks (and beyond if needed). Since the best possible facilities, including dock for container, are available at PAGH’s Pakistan Center located at 12638 Bissonett, Houston, Texas 77099, so that will the place to collect In-Kind donations.

Alliance will also organize joint monetary fundraising events, which may include a large scale underwritten dinner at a nice location, and one or two radio telethons, where people will be encouraged to donate towards the organizations of their choice, just like it was done at the time of the earthquake in Pakistan 2005. For the joint fundraising efforts, more organizations will be included that will become part of the list of organizations to receive the monetary donations for these joint fundraising efforts. As of Monday, September 19th, 2011, these organizations were identified to receive monetary funds raised during Alliance’s Events (more can be included later on): Pakistan Prime Minister Fund; Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) South Texas Chapter; Helping Hand [USA] For Relief & Development; Imran Khan Foundation (IKF); Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH); Raindrop Helping Hands; Sindhi Association of North America (SANA); Sun Charity; and Red Cross (included so as to give choice to larger American community to participate – someone from Red Cross will be approached before putting their name on the final list).

It was decided to have an initial working committee for the Alliance, and following persons were chosen with consensus – More persons will be included as the Alliance expands By the Grace of God: Saeed Sheikh (Coordinator), Talat Talpur (Treasurer), Mian Nazir (In-Kind Donation Coordinator), and ILyas Hasan Choudry (Secretary and Community & Media Outreach). Two persons, who are members of the Alliance Organizations; namely Bobby Refaie and Cristal Montanez Baylor will soon be in Pakistan; and during their stay in Pakistan, they will act as Liaison for the Alliance in Pakistan.

For more information, one can call Saeed Sheikh (Cell: 1-281-948-1840) and ILyas Hasan Choudry (Cell: 1-832-275-0786).

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Houstonian Corner (Volume 13 Issue 34)

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Landmark Radio Light Of Islam Enters Into The 18th Year

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Houston is considered as the Mecca of Community Media Outlets, with many Weekly Newspapers; Daily & Weekly Radio Shows. One of the longest running Radio Program is Light Of Islam (www.LightOfIslamRadio.Com)

Community entrepreneur Maqsood Siddiqui has been conducting this show, since August 14th, 1994. It comes on Houston Radio Frequency 1460AM every Friday between 1pm.-2pm. and every Monday between 9pm.-12am. and can also be heard worldwide at www.LightOfIslamRadio.Com

A special program was done this past Monday night to commemorate the entering into the 18th year of Light of Islam. Several community personalities were present including former Islamic Society of Greater Houston President Dr. Moein Butt, President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) P. J. Swati, PCC-USA Officer Bearer Abdur Rauf, and many others.
Everyone appreciated the hard work and perseverance of Maqsood Siddiqui for continuing to provide this community service for 17 years.

Maqsood Siddiqui informed: “We started this program because radio had become very popular media among the community, especially those from India-Pakistan-Bangladesh; and to provide voice to the Muslim community to learn our religion and for the preservation of the Muslim identity of our future generations. We have evolved to also provide other services like Hajj package, Matrimonial Services especially for those in late 30s and early 40s, Counseling Services, etc. Our most popular segments have been opportunity for the young ones to come live on air and read from the Quran or presenting Hamd-o-Naat; understanding of Islam by scholars like Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal of Madrasae Islamiah, Late Imam Mohammad Naseem, and many others from throughout the world.”
Special cake was cut on the occasion, and everyone was offered snacks and tea. For more information, one can reach Maqsood Siddiqui at 1-832-298-7860.

Calls for Unity at Houston Consulate Pakistan Day Celebrations

“Mudslinging in the community should finish. If we aspire to secure a progressing and peaceful Pakistan, we need to start here in Houston, through our mature, civil and responsible behavior,” these were the approximate words of Amir Shah of The Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN), as he was one of the many speakers, who spoke at the traditional flag hoisting ceremony at the Houston Pakistani Consulate on the occasion of independence day of Pakistan August 14th.

Emcee of the event was Faisal Amin, Honorary Investment Advisor to the Government of Pakistan. He read the message of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. Faisal Amin talked about the fact that this year, he has spent more days in Pakistan than USA and have seen very closely all the huge challenges, the government of Pakistan is facing and trying to resolve.

Others who spoke, included the Consul General of Pakistan Honorable Aqil Nadeem (also read President Zardari’s statement), President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) Taslim Siddiqui, President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) P. J. Swati (talked about enhancing trade links with Pakistan and working on economy to bring Pakistan out of gloom), and President of Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) Saeed Sheikh (talked about importance of law & order in Karachi for the sake of Pakistan).

Interesting thing about the message of Presdient Zardari was that he mentioned about People’s Party, while as the head of state, he needs to talk mainly about the country Pakistan.

“It is nice to see some young ones here among us. Parents need to inspire their children to become journalists, attorneys, and lawyers, other than doctors & engineers, to able to serve the community, USA, Pakistan, and get personal professionals satisfaction of doing something worthwhile,” said Aqil Nadeem, the Consul general of Pakistan.

This traditional Pakistan Day 14th August Flag Hoisting Ceremony was held at the Houston Pakistani Consulate with much fervor and enthusiasm. Despite Ramadan and heat advisory, appreciable number of people attended. It was heartening to see a bunch of youth that had come with Mrs. Mahmood, who has the privilege of once holding Pakistani flag with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

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American Admirers & Friends of BB have made a Documentary on her Legacy

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Large Number Of Persons Attending The Pre-Screening of PBS Documentary BHUTTOThe Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBS) Houston Channel 8 will be airing a documentary called “BHUTTO” on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 10:00pm under their “Independent Lens Series”. This documentary is directed and produced by Duane Baughman, while majority of the statements in the documentary are from Mark Siegel of USA, a close friend and advisor of Benazir Bhutto.

The preview of this Former Late Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto’s (BB’s) documentary was shown at Rice University Cinema last week, which was attended by Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Honorable Aqil Nadeem, many Americans of Pakistani origin and several indigenous Americans. Program was jointly sponsored by the Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) and Pakistan Chamber of Commerce – USA (PCC-USA).

Julie Coan of PBS Houston moderated the session before the screening of the movie, with brief statements given by the representatives of the two partnering organizations, namely Saeed Sheikh of HKSCA and P. J. Khan Swati of PCC-USA.

People had mixed feelings about the documentary, as they commented and asked questions during the panel discussion after the filming of the documentary. The panel discussion was moderated by award-winning journalist Patricia Gras (Patty), featured internationally acclaimed author Bapsi Sidhwa (now lives in Houston and originally from Lahore, Pakistan); and University of St. Thomas Professor of Economics Dr. Javed Ashraf.

The documentary has several stereotypical images, like while talking about terrorism and extremism; people are shown establishing congressional prayers in mosques. Another image was of jovial faced Indian leaders after the independence, while enrage faced Pakistani leaders.

Most of the people agreed with Ms. Sidhwa that the heroin of the documentary is BB and the whole film revolves around that theme and angle. The film portrayed BB as a brave lady, who originally had to wear Burqa, but then her charismatic dad Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto allowed her to come out of it, being one of the first ladies in the Bhutto family to do that. Some people felt that mistakes made by BB in terms of not fully supporting political culture in Pakistan by having it within her party, was not much highlighted in the documentary, while others said that BB fought & died for democracy.

Several people were bemused by the comments in the documentary of famous professor Dr. Akbar Ahmed, who somehow termed BB as mystic and Sufi.

Many people talked about the role of army in Pakistan and its corruption. Some said doubting comments if Pakistan and Pakistanis will ever embrace democracy.

On this our media representative at the event reminded that somehow people worldwide keep forgetting that the birth of Pakistan in fact came through a constitutional, political, and democratic struggle: So existence of Pakistan has very deep roots in democracy and political activism.

In a write-up, Duane Baughman, Director and Producer of the documentary “BHUTTO”, has said that he watched CNN in horror on Dec. 27, 2007, when Benazir Bhutto, the first woman in history to lead a Muslim nation, was blown away by a suicide bomber. Millions felt Benazir was the best hope for democracy and progress in that strategically critical nuclear-armed country. He has written that before Benazir’s death a close colleague of his reconnected him with Benazir’s advisor and close friend Mark Siegel, who had been pulling together American consultants on her behalf in anticipation of her 3rd rise to power in Pakistan. Three days after her death, Mr. Baughman watched Mark Siegel desperately trying – almost singlehandedly – to keep Benazir’s legacy alive by making the rounds on every conceivable news show. Before long, he spoke about telling the world Benazir’s story via a documentary film; and that is when they started to work on this documentary in Dubai, talking to her widower Asif Ali Zardari and three of her heartbroken children.

Duane Baughman has brought this angle in the story of BB that the Bhutto’s are called the “Kennedy’s of Pakistan.” Ironically, at Harvard, BB’s roommate was Bobby Kennedy’s daughter, Kathleen Kennedy.

Again the Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBS) Houston Channel 8 will be airing this documentary called “BHUTTO” on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 10:00pm. under their “Independent Lens Series”.

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