Day on the Hill” Gathers Record-Breaking Congressional Support for Pakistani Earthquake Relief
By Fauzia Tariq

L to R: Congresswomen Sheila Jackson-Lee, Caucus Co-chair Dan Burton, two groups of guests and Ambassador Jehangir Karamat

Thursday, November 17th marked the achievement of “Day on the Hill”, an unparalleled, cooperative effort by numerous Pakistani-American organizations to garner Congressional support for earthquake relief in Pakistan. The day’s activities included a breakfast reception with Members of Congress in Rayburn House Office Building, followed by constituent meetings to lobby Members of Congress about the dire need for additional U.S. assistance for the humanitarian crisis at hand. The “Day on the Hill” culminated with a community feedback session and dinner hosted by Jehangir Karamat, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US.
During the breakfast reception and individual meetings numerous House Representatives and Senate leaders from both political parties interacted with Pakistani-American organizations, community leaders and concerned citizens. All Members of Congress that attended spoke at the breakfast, articulating their commitment, support, and ideas for strengthening U.S. assistance.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, Co-chair for the Congressional Pakistan Caucus was an honorary host during the morning reception and welcomed her colleagues as well as thanked the organizers. Ms. Jackson-Lee, with fellow Co-chair Dan Burton, introduced H. Res. 562, a resolution urging the U.S. to reaffirm its commitment to earthquake relief through additional support and by pledging long-term reconstruction efforts in affected areas. Ms. Jackson-Lee also confirmed an upcoming visit to Pakistan by House members in order to assess damage and support reconstruction efforts.
Representatives speaking included Robert Simmons of Connecticut, who committed to building a school in an earthquake-affected area. Representative John Conyers of Michigan articulated his admiration for the response by the Pakistani-American community and commended them for their efforts. Representative Chris Van Hollen lamented the lack of media coverage concerning the earthquake and reinforced the need for gathering international support for Pakistan given its strategic role in combating terrorism. Other distinguished Members of Congress that spoke in support of earthquake relief efforts in Pakistan included Representatives Shelley Berkley of Nevada, Thomas Davis of Virginia, Jim Moran of Virginia, Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania and Linda Sanchez of California.
In addition, the event featured remarks by leaders of co-sponsoring organizations. Dr. Saud Anwar, Secretary General of the Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC), moderated the event. Aisha Chapra, Executive Director of the Pakistani-American Leadership Center (PAL-C), Pervaiz Lodhie, member of the Board of Directors of PAL-C, and Hussain Malik, President of the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA), Dr. Wasiullah Khan, President of the Pakistani American Congress (PAC) and Mr. Hanif Akhtar of PAL-C addressed the group, detailing the contributions of each organization to the relief effort and updating the community of future plans. Also in attendance were Mr. Mossadaq Chughtai, Mr. Rehman Jinnah and Dr. Mansoor Shah of the PAL-C Board of Directors, Mr. Shaukhat Sindhu of PAANA, Mr. Irfan Malik of OPEN and NAPA and Dr. Pervez Shah and Dr. Raza Bokhari of PAKPAC.
Additionally, Mr. Akbar Khawaja, Senator from Pakistan rallied those gathered on behalf Pakistan saying, “We’re all connected and we must respond together. Every contribution, big or small, will impact a life.” Mr. Mohammad Sadiq, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Pakistan, concluded the morning reception with remarks on the successful coming together of so many community organizations for earthquake relief efforts.
The remainder of the day was spent in constituent meetings with Congressional Representatives by state delegations from all across the United States. Community members asked their Representatives and Senators to sign H. Res. 562 and provide additional and long-term relief to Pakistan.
After a long day of lobbying, members of the community came together one final time at the Embassy of Pakistan to reflect on the efforts and successes of the Day. Ambassador Jehangir Karamat applauded the community for their continued support of earthquake victims in Pakistan and highlighted the efforts of the Embassy in relief work. The following organizations were recognized for instrumentality in organizing the massive lobbying day: PAL-C (Pakistani American Leadership Center), PAKPAC (Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee), APPNA (Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America), Rising Leaders, National PSA, OPEN (Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America, NAPA (National Association of Pakistani Americans), PAANA (Pakistani American Association of North America), COPAA (Council of Pakistani American Affairs), AOPP (Association of Pakistani Professionals), APSENA (Association of Pakistani Scientists and Engineers of North America), PAC (Pakistani American Congress) and PAGW (Pakistani Association of Greater Washington).
The “Day on the Hill” was successful in bringing together and mobilizing committed community members and Congressional leaders in unprecedented force to bring immediate relief for the survivors of the earthquake in Pakistan.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.