Biggest Allies of Pakistan Are the Pakistani-Americans: Congresswoman Lee

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Hon Green, Lee, & AL Hoang at the Alliance Benevolent 40-Feet Container Sending-Off Ceremony

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“According to the latest reports from Pakistan of this past Thursday, three millions out of the original six million brothers & sisters in humanity are still suffering from the after affects of the floods of late August & early September, including hundreds & thousands of children. It is clear that several thousands will continue to struggle in months and years to come,” informed Muhammad Saeed Sheikh, Coordinator of the Houston Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts, a collaborative of 42 organizations and media outlets.

Mr. Sheikh was doing the welcome speech at the Pakistan Center of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), on the occasion of preparation and sending-off ceremony of 40-feet container termed the Benevolent Container from the Houstonians Community for the brethren in humanity in Sindh Pakistan, who are suffering from the aftermath of the floods of 2011.

Honorable Congresspersons AL Green and Sheila Jackson Lee; Councilman AL Hoang of City of Houston, and Honorable Consul Generals of Pakistan & Turkey Aqil Nadeem and Cemalettin (pronounced Jemalettin) Aydin were the special guests of honor at this ceremony, together with President of PAGH Taslim Siddiqui, Sindhi Association of North America (SANA)’s Jamil Daudi, Sam’s Club’s Khaled Khan, Hashoo Foundation’s Cristal Montanez, and many others. Emcee of the event was Noorunisa Ghanghro, who included several inspiring quotes of Madam Teresa in her talk.

Special Congressional and Mayoral Proclamations of Excellent Service by the Alliance were given by the three elected officials.

Hon AL Hoang; Hon Aqil Nadeem; Hon Cemalettin; President of the Texas-Turkish Chamber of Commerce Celil Yaka; and Taslim Siddiqui spoke on the occasion, appreciating the work of the Alliance under the leadership of Muhammad Saeed Sheikh; in doing the unified efforts, and said Alliance has shown how when several hands join together have such positive impact.

Coordinator of In-Kind Donation Mian Nazir of PAGH thanked his team of volunteers lead by Zeeshan Qavi, and more than 15 volunteers of Red Cross from Dulles High School Sugar Land; plus several volunteers of SANA.

Honorable Congressman AL Green said that the motto of Alliance is Blessings in Unity and the excellent results of the efforts of Alliance truly reflect that. He applauded the efforts of Pakistani community in helping people in need everywhere including at the time of Katrina and Ike, when the Pakistani community got together in helping the fellow Americans. He appreciated PAGH for always offering Pakistan Center, when humanity has the need.

Honorable Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said she is totally impressed to see more than $81,000 raised in cash by the Alliance and more than $100,000 wholesale value of in-kind donated items raised by the Alliance of 42 entities to benefit the flood victims of Pakistan. She said when the nutritious meal will reach the mouth of those needing it the most and hygiene items reaching to cleanse them, they will indeed remember this nice gift sent by Pakistani-Americans, who are the biggest allies of Pakistan.

Honorable Lee went on to say she is extremely sorrowful on the recent loss of army soldiers as well as several of the Pakistani army personnel and civilians losing their lives in this war on terrorism. These are trying days in the USA-Pakistan relations, where their friendship goes back to decades. We need to continue informing leaders of USA and Pakistan that this friendship should be strengthened rather than made weaker; and although many tragic incidents may have happened, but that should not affect the otherwise cordial relationship between the two nations and countries.

In his presentation Coordinator of the Alliance Muhammad Saeed Sheikh said in the end that last year at an emergency meeting called by Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee at her office, she mentioned about sending a Mercy Plane to Pakistan. Although it is not a Mercy Plane, but we want to report to Honorable Congresswoman that it is a much larger 40-feet Mercy Container holding more than $100,000 retail worth of in-kind donations of the most needed food and hygiene items plus blankets for the flood victims of Pakistan.

For more information about the Alliance, one can call Muhammad Saeed Sheikh at 1-281-948-1840.

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Hillary Clinton Speaks at Eid ul-Fitr Reception

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Hillary Clinton

Ben Franklin Room

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File: Hillary Clinton in Paris September 1, 2011.

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SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you, Farah.  Thank you.  Well, I am a wannabe athlete – (laughter) – and I have absolutely no claim to being anything other than that, but I am delighted that this evening we are going to be honoring some young people who truly are athletes and who are carving their own futures in the history of our country.

So good evening everyone.  Eid Mubarak.  And thank you, Farah, for your tireless efforts on behalf of the work that brings you not only to this podium but around the world.

It is a delight to see so many ambassadors from countries that I have visited and know well and to see many familiar faces here again, particularly some of the youth leaders that we honored at our last Iftar dinner.  The problem with Ramadan in August is it was impossible, and so we thought, well, it’s September but we’re going forward.  And so I thank you for your understanding and your being here once again.

Now, I’m told that there are two members of Congress with us, Representatives Keith Ellison and Sheila Jackson Lee, and I send a special word of welcome to them.

As Farah said, you can see through the lobby and the Diplomatic Reception Rooms some of our history of presidents affirming America’s respect for Muslims and Islam dating back to Washington, Adams, and Jefferson.  And we celebrate that history, and particularly today we wanted to celebrate sports and athletic competition.  Whether it be the Olympics or the World Cup, the human drive to run faster and climb higher is universal, and universally celebrated.  And it’s also a way by which talent rises to the top, ability is what matters, and people are treated equally.

And that’s part of the reason the State Department sponsors sports exchange programs and sends sports ambassadors around the world.  And for all the athletes joining us this evening, you may never have thought of yourself exactly as a role model, but you are.  And you are not only to the students that some of you visited earlier today, but to so many beyond.  And all Americans take pride in your achievements.

Now, we have some household names as well as some who will be household names.  World champion boxer Amir Khan flew all the way from London to be part of this celebration.  Where is Mr. Khan?  Thank you so much for coming.  (Applause.)

We also have a number of women athletes who are here.  When Ibtihaj Muhammad fences in her hijab, when she trains 30 hours each week without missing a prayer, she’s thinking about winning and she’s thinking about the London Olympics next year.  Where is Ms. Muhammad? 

Where is she?  Right there.  (Applause.)  But I think it’s fair to say that, as her mother has said, many people feel pride and recognize that she is representing more than just herself in her endeavors.
Now, not everybody will go to the Olympics, but even weekend warriors can get some satisfaction out of this.  And I hope many of you were able to watch the new documentary we screened earlier.  And we are joined by the coach and four members of the Fordson Tractors  from Dearborn, Michigan, as well as the filmmakers.  Where are all of them? 

That was such a great documentary and a great story.  (Applause.)

And I hope everybody gets a chance to meet our athletes here tonight, but that film highlighted the exceptional circumstances that the team faced, that they wanted to train hard and stay healthy while keeping the requirements of Ramadan.  And so like every other high school team, they geared up for football practice in August this year with two-a-day practices, except they took the field at 11:00 p.m. and finished around 4:00.  And that takes special dedication, special dedication to both your sport and your faith.

But what stood out to me is how familiar the team and the players ultimately are.  The image of the pregame huddle and prayer could’ve been filmed at any high school in America.  Shoulder pads and helmets crowded the locker room, and big-game nerves were somewhat evident on your faces, I have to confess.  But despite the extra burdens they carried, at the end of it, it was Friday night football for a team of champions.

Now, we can’t pretend that there have not been difficulties and division.  In fact, the Fordson documentary tells the story of the religious tensions in Dearborn, Michigan.  But the power of America has always been anchored in our ability to come together and move forward as one nation.

This weekend, we will mark the 10th anniversary of September 11th.  And we all lost something that day.  In the ashes and the aftermaths, we knew that we had lost Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, men, women, young, old.  And a decade later, that unity that we felt must continue to inspire and guide us.

I’m very proud that in our country, despite the challenges, we do honor the freedom of religion.  Too many countries in the world today do not, or they make it difficult and even dangerous for people to try to exercise their religion.  So as difficult as it may be, the fact that we get up every day and keep trying is a real tribute to all of us.  So at this time of celebration and reflection, and as we mark the end of Ramadan and the beginning of a new year of renewal and possibility, I hope we can recommit ourselves to the common cause of spreading peace, prosperity, understanding to all the people of the earth.

Now I wanted to introduce two of our athletes so that you could hear  from them directly.  Ephraim Salaam has played in the NFL for over a decade, but some of you may know him best for his memorable Super Bowl commercial last year.  (Laughter.)  And Kulsoom Abdullah is a weightlifter, forging the way for Muslim women athletes to maintain their freedom of expression and still compete at the highest level. 

Please join me in welcoming first Ephraim and then Kulsoom.

(Applause.)

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Reforming Pakistan’s Government School System

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“While being involved in relief work for the 2010 floods victims in Pakistan, I was standing with a Brigadier of Pakistan Army at a higher altitude; and saw seas of volunteers in front of us, working hard to serve the humanity. After few weeks, not many of these volunteers were left serving, and it was Pakistan Army & governmental machinery that were providing all the assistance. This shows that without a proper and strong system at governmental level, long-term change in the society, communities, and Pakistan is not possible.”

These were the approximate sentiments expressed by famous performer of Pakistan Shehzad Roy, as he and his wife Salma introduced the new initiatives of Zindagi Education Trust to a large gathering of Houstonian Pakistanis, & their American friends of the grass-roots level Pakistanis. Aron Kader from Los Angeles California was a hit at this program with his hilarious comedy, while legendary Bushra Ansari presented some nice cultural songs of Pakistan in various languages. Shehzad Roy also most passionately presented his most famous songs, included those about social issues and history of Pakistan.

This awareness & charity gala was organized by Dr. Asaf Qadeer, Faiyaz Merchant, Colonel (Retd) Hamed, Asad Jawad, Fariha Jawad, & their team of young volunteers at the nice Sugar Land ballroom in Stafford Texas. Tauheed Ashraf, Sadia Ashraf, and Khalid Qureishi from national Zindagi Trust came from Chicago.

Honorable Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee especially attended the event, and gave Congressional Recognition to Shehzad Roy for his outstanding service to Pakistan in the field of education. Honorable Congresswoman said that things may look tough for Pakistan at present; future is extremely bright due to the work done by person like Shehzad Roy and his wife. She said she will continue to be the voice in the Congress to support the educational, health, energy, and environment related programs in Pakistan.

Shehzad wife Salma made a nice power-point presentation, showing how they have revamped the overall curriculum of their adopted government schools, like the SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School in Pakistan. The new curriculum is more interactive, engaging, and interesting for children to learn the basics of mathematics, sciences, languages, and so on. Students from this school came live into the fundraising.

Once the basics are strong, there is much hope that students excel throughout their academic life and beyond. This curriculum place the students at par with any private school, and eventually if this is replicated through a long-term process throughout Pakistan by adopting one school at a time, the whole living standards, ways to live life, consciousness, and environment will positively change; and those involved in this noble endeavor are Shehzad Roy, his wife Salma, and their colleagues plus all the hundreds & thousands of patrons throughout the world, including USA.

Shehzad Roy, in his  made a nice power-point presentation, showing how the Zindagi Trust other than their 9 years continuing “I-am-paid-to-learn” program, has taken over in 2006 the management of a public school called SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School. The objective was to turn it into a centre of excellence with the hope that government would replicate the model all over Pakistan. For the first time in Pakistan, Zindagi Trust replaced decades-old government textbooks with imaginative and thought- provoking textbooks. They have introduced innovative learning modules like sports, rowing, photography as well as an outstanding audio-visual room, art room, computer lab and other facilities that help children discover their individual talent. With such innovative intervention, idea is that there are Ibnae Sinas, Sadeqains, Einsteins, and Newtons in the slums and streets, who once given equal opportunities in neat and clean environment, with fully equipped infrastructure (including well designed classrooms, net-&clean restrooms, labs, and libraries), will excel, and bring their lives, and the state of country out of the gloom.

For more information on Zindagi Trust, one can visit www.zindagitrust.org or call Tauheed Ashraf at 1-630-926-1564.

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Muslim Leadership Summit

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

IMG_0056The tectonic shift of the American Muslim community towards increased activism and strong support for the Democrats was exemplified this month by a visit of Muslim business leaders to congress and the Executive Office Building next to the White House, in an event arranged by first-ever Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (D-5th-MN).

About 30 leaders from the Muslim community, businessmen, medical professionals and politicians, went to Washington May 11th and 12th, to meet with prominent congressmen including Keith Ellison, Andre Carson (D-7th-IN), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-8th-CA) and to participate in discussion on foreign policy issues.  Attendees also made significant contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), under whose auspices the meetings were held.

New Jersey businessman Saeed Patel, owner of Amex Computers, said of the event that “Obviously there was a big change this year, because [the Democrats] are not in the majority anymore.”

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DCCC Muslim Leadership Summit attendees and speakers including Valerie Jarrett, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rep. Keith Ellison, Saeed Patel, and others.

Some of the prominent invitees were Mr. Patel, the attorney Mazen Asbahi from Chicago, Safir Rabb, Riaz Fakhoury from Ocala FL, SA Ibrahim, Nihad Awad of CAIR, Winston Ibrahim, Kamran Farid, and the mayor of Teaneck New Jersey, Mohammed Hameeduddin, Adnan Durrani, Uzma Iqbal, Hurram Waheed, and Kemal Oksuz were also there.

Rashad Husain, White House representative to the OIC, attended the event and spoke with the Muslim delegation members.

The Muslim delegation represented a broad swath of Muslim ethnicities and regional backgrounds, from Turkish diplomats to American businessmen of Indian origin, to African American interfaith activists and businessmen from around the world.

This was the third annual event of this type, and those in attendance expressed their wish that this annual event should continue and that the Muslim community should increase in political clout.

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Houstonian Corner (V12-I10)

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

PARENTS: Get Your Children Health Insurance On March 12th At Shifa Clinic

“Houston Shifa Foundation (HSF) established a partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) some twelve months ago, when HSF was offered training by Ms. Kelli Jackson. Because of this partnership we have managed to enroll close to 150+ families in various CHIP and Medicaid programs. This has benefited the most vulnerable members of our community, our children. Now on Friday, March 12th, 2010, 1pm.-5pm., our community parents can come to our Southwest Clinic at 10415 Synott Road, Bldg “D”, Sugar Land, Texas 77478 and get their children’s CHIP / MEDICAID Applications filled out. For eligibility, documentation requirements and more details, parents can call Mahmood Marfani at 832-660-1848 or visit www.ShifaClinicHouston.org:” This was informed at a Special Press Briefing for Community Media at HSF by Rafique Jangda, Executive Director of the Shifa Clinic.

Kelli King-Jackson, Director of Outreach for CDF-TX provided information on mission of the Children’s Defense Fund: “There are 1,584,276 (24.1%) children uninsured in Texas. Just in two of the 13 counties in the greater Houston region, Harris County has 332,093 (30.7%) children uninsured and Fort Bend has 336,030 (26.2%) children without health insurance. Our motto is that every step we take to improve the lives of children improves the lives of all of us: Today – Tomorrow – Together. Our mission is to leave no child behind without proper healthcare and our partnership with Shifa is significant, as this institution is providing excellent basic health services at a very minimal cost or for free to those vulnerable in our society, who have no other place to go. We would like to invite all the eligible parents to come on Friday, March 12th, 2010, between 1pm.-5pm., at HSF located at 10415 Synott Road, Bldg “D”, Sugar Land, Texas 77478 and get their children’s CHIP / MEDICAID Applications filled out. For eligibility, documentation requirements and more details, parents can call CDF office at 713-664-1975 or visit www.ChildrensDefense.Org

Other than the Children’s Defense Fund, HSF has established partnerships with Denver Harbor Clinic and Airline Children’s Clinic, which gives opportunity for the community living in other parts of town to avail excellent low cost (some free) health services near their home. Marisa Ponti, Marketing Director of Denver Harbor Clinic was present at the Press Conference. Denver Harbor Clinic is located at 424 Hahlo Street, Houston, Texas 77020, Phone: 713-674-3326 and Airline Children’s Clinic is situated at 5808 Airline Drive, Houston, Texas 77076, Phone: 713-695-4013.

Another good resource to visit is www.CHIPMedicAID.Org

Mayor Parker & Faith Leaders Unite to Celebrate Census Sabbath This Weekend

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Census Sabbath Press Conference by Interfaith Ministries at United Methodist Church Downtown Houston…

Community Being Encouraged To Simple Mail-In The Census 10 Questions Form by March 21st, 2010

“As members of this faith-based community and the communities in which we live and work, we have much at stake going into the 2010 Census. We pledge to dedicate sermons, provide spiritual guidance, and teachings focused on a ‘higher calling’ to make every person count.”

This was the pledge read by Mayor of Houston Annise Parker at the special press conference held to announce March 5th, 6th, & 7th, 2010 as the Census Sabbath in Houston.

Census numbers are important, as they determine the representation in the US Congress and if all Houstonians are counted, there is every possibility that this region will get a new Congressional Seat. The US Constitution requires Census to be done every ten years at the beginning of the decade and the results also provide a yardstick to allocate federal and state funds for infrastructure development, health, education, and other developmental projects at local levels.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, joined by Pastor Rudy Rasmus of St. John’s United Methodist Church and President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston Dr. Aziz Siddiqi to call on Houston’s religious community from all walks of faith to pledge their commitment to provide Census education to their congregations during Census Sabbath weekend.

“The weekend of March 5-7 celebrates Census Sabbath, a time in which faith-based institutions throughout Houston will dedicate sermons, provide spiritual guidance and teachings focused on a ‘higher calling’ to make every person count. A complete count in Houston will result in additional federal funding to help meet the growing needs of Houston’s diverse communities. We want to gain congressional seat; make sure legislative boundaries are drawn based on all the persons counted; and not lose $1,700 per person who does not get counted. It is Easy – It is Important – It is Safe.”

Mayor Parker said that funding based on the Census will help expand community centers, improve transportation and increase health care options.

Houston mail-in response rate in 2000 Census was 61%, 3 points lower than national average of 64%: So this year all Houstonians are being urged by our media outlet that they need to beat the national average this year. The moment you receive the Census Form in the mail around March 15th, 2010, simply fill out the easy 10 questions and mail them in, to fulfill your moral, national, community, and societal duty.

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Houstonian Corner V12-I3

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Bereavement for the Khan Family

We announce with immense pain and sorrow that Yasmeen Khan (Parro), wife of President of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) Shaukat Khan and sister of former City of Houston Councilperson Masrur Javed Khan, passed away after bravely battling with cancer for almost two years. Her funeral prayers were held at Hamza Masjid.

A special program of prayers was held for her on Saturday, January 16th, 2010 at 12:30pm. at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Main Center located at 3110 East Side Street, Houston, Texas 77098. For more information, one can call 832-867-2522 / 713-398-4829.

Staff members and their families of our media institute would like to extend our heartiest condolences’ to the whole Khan Family, pray for the departed soul to enter into the highest paradise and that God gives strength to the whole family to bear this immense loss (Aameen).

Public Service Does Not Need Any Portfolio: M. J. Khan

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Friends of Former City of Houston District “F” Councilperson M. J. Khan arranged a dinner to recognize and appreciate the services rendered by termed-out Councilman. Special congressional recognition was given by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee on this occasion. Also present and who gave tremendous tributes to M. J. included Congressman AL Green, Former Mayor of Houston Bill White, City of Houston Councilperson District “A” Brenda Stardig; Harris County Judge Candidate Gordon Quan, Azam Akhtar; Ghulam Chisti; Ghulam Bombaywala, Ali Riza Candir (Turkish Community); Dr. Asaf Qadeer; Shamshad Wali; Haroon Shaikh; Dr. Yaqoob Sheikh; Attorney Nomi Hussain; Ahmad El-Yaseen; Mohammad Zaheer; Attorney Neiyyar Izfar; and others. Everyone said that people will soon see M. J. Khan at a high public service post.

M. J. Khan with heavy heart informed everybody that doctors have given up hope for his sister to recover from cancer, which she had been daringly fighting for 2 years and then proudly informed that God has given him a grandson Yousuf only two weeks ago. He said these are real life struggles and then joyous stories: Winning or losing elections have no meaning in front of the real life.

He said he never ever imagined that a stadium full of people like 70,000 would ever vote for him in his life. Masrur Khan informed about a saying of Gordon Quan: “A stadium full of people voted for me. But just as information, my opponent also got a stadium full of voters balloting in his favor.”

He said although he did not win City Controller Elections, it does not mean he has lost or he will sit on the sidelines. “One does not need a portfolio to serve fellow human being,” added M.J.

Talking generally to the Muslim Community, M. J. Khan said history is a proof that wherever Muslims went, they left beautiful legacy of human service and that is what the community needs to do in USA: We need to serve everyone without any discrimination.

M.J. mentioned about one internal challenge the Muslim Community is facing and that is the Youth in the community need good guidance and should not fall to misinformation of the extremists, who have capability of sending their message inside USA using various new technology and media. “Muslim Youth need to follow the middle path specified by God and His Messenger Mohammad and avoid any extremist inclinations. Allah SWT in Quran clearly has stipulated that if someone saves a life, it is as if he or she has saved the whole humanity; while if someone kills one innocent person, it is as if he or she has killed the whole humanity.”

At the same time, M. J. Khan mentioned that one of the biggest external challenges the Muslim Community has to face is the false propaganda of few that wrongly attribute violence with Islam. “If Muslim Community is openly involved in what Islam has asked us to do and that is we have to be at the forefront of the public service, we can take care of this tirade of propaganda. We may be students in schools & colleges; entrepreneurs; professionals; politicians; and so on: Our main task in life is to serve the humanity,” said M. J. Khan.

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