APPNA President Tenders
By Iftikhar Ali
New York: Under pressure from its outraged
members, leaders of the Pakistan-American doctors' panel have
apologized to them for the honur conferred on BJP leader L.K.
Advani during a recent trip to India, according to The South
Asian Tribune, a website newspaper.
The apologies followed a wave of protests from a number of
senior office-bearers and members of the 1800-strong APPNA,
the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America,
over the presentation of a plaque by the association president
to Mr. Advani, a former Indian Home Minister.
The South Asian Tribune, which is edited by well-known Pakistani
journalist Shaheen Sehbai, published detailed correspondence
of APPNA leaders with their members on their internal E-Mail
circuit in which Advani's role in the destruction of the Babri
Mosque as also in the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat and Kashmir
The correspondence shows that not only the APPNA President,
Dr Hussain Malik, tendered an apology to all the members after
resisting it for sometime and defending his action, the President-elect
of the organization for 2006, Dr. Abdul Rashid Piracha, had
also taken strong exception to the move.
"I personally see the honor plaque to Mr L K Advani from
APPNA as a grave affront to my being a Pakistani and a Muslim.
I don't need to elaborate on the genocide that Mr Advani and
his vicious cohorts have repeatedly inflicted upon the Muslims
in India. For APPNA to present him with an honor plaque amounts
to its losing sight of every grain of national dignity and
personal self-respect. The so-called peace overtures between
India and Pakistan, as appealing as they are, should not be
carried out at the cost of sacrificing our souls and national
sensibilities," Dr Pirzada said in a message to all APPNA
The Secretary of APPNA, Dr Nadeem Kazi, who was part of the
250-member delegation to India, was so bitter even during
the tour that he accused his president of almost acting "like
a king." "HM (Dr Hussain Malik) needs to give answers
and reasoning for his unilateral decisions to membership regarding
his decisions. Then membership should decide the further action
and as an officer I will support the membership decision,
as our constitution clearly states that general membership
has the ultimate power," the Secretary said in his detailed
e-Mail to APPNA members on March 27.
Even the Treasurer of APPNA, Dr Mahmood Alam joined the protestors
when he wrote to his members on March 28: "Personally,
I protest against giving the plaque to LK Advani and others.
They were recognized and honored for what services? It was
a shameful and uncalled for act in my opinion. Mr. President
your response does not address the concern of many members.
You must regret and apologize about that event."
Dr. Omar Atiq, the immediate past president of APPNA said
in his comments on March 29: "Some of the events during
the recent APPNA trip to India, as reported, are of grave
concern and deserve an explanation. An open, thorough and
in-depth discussion and analysis of what happened and why,
and ways to prevent it from happening in the future, is urgently
warranted during the upcoming APPNA Council Meeting in Washington,
As the chorus of protests from top APPNA office bearers and
leaders started to hurt, the main organizer of the trip, Dr
Rizwan Naeem, who is the son-in-law of Dr Najma Heptulla of
BJP, said, "I want to start with a clear message that
it was a decision of poor choice without consensus. Giving
a plaque will never negate Mr. Advani's past. As a member
of the organizing committee I wish to apologize to the members
for the hurt sentiments. If my opinion had been sought I would
have said that there is no need to usurp the role of the host
when we were guests ourselves at that function," Dr Rizwan
stated to all members.
The sitting President, Dr Hussain Malik, first defended his
decision to award the plaque to LK Advani strongly. In his
detailed message on March 28, he wrote: "During the entire
10 day trip nobody ever mentioned to me personally as to why
the plaques were given to those individuals. The group consisted
of 250 Pakistani American physicians and their families, which
included four past Presidents of APPNA, one member of the
Board of Trustees, Dr. Bhatti, son of Mohammad Aziz Shaheed
Bhatti, and one retired Navy Admiral."
But as the pressure increased and 35 physicians signed an
open letter to Mr Advani, asking him to return the plaque
and threatened Dr Malik of a no-confidence motion in the upcoming
APPNA annual meeting in Houston, Dr Malik, gave in and publicly
tendered an apology on April 2.
Dr. Malik wrote, "I realize that some mistakes were made
during our recent trip to India, especially giving the plague
to Mr. LK Advani for which I accept full responsibility. I
know that I have offended many of my friends and supporters
and offer my sincere apology to all the APPNA members for
my actions....I am looking forward to a very productive and
successful year for APPNA, but I will need your full support
The letter by 35 doctors to Advani stated that they were "extremely
disturbed and horrified" by this action of their president.
"Dr Hussain Malik, The President of APPNA, has conferred
a Plaque of Recognition upon you on behalf of the APPNA membership.
We believe that he acted on his own and without any required
formal approval from the elected executives of APPNA or from
the general membership. We disdain politics based on communal
animosity, in particular the divisive policies of your party,
BJP," the letter said.
"We cannot and will not forget the destruction of the
Babri Masjid, massacre of Gujarati and Kashmiri Muslims allegedly
under your patronage. Our hearts bleed at the miserable condition
of the minorities of India, especially the Muslims and the
atrocities committed against them under your cherished extremist
ideology of Hindutva," it continued.
"Unless you publicly repent for past behavior and ask
for forgiveness of all those you have harmed, we are unable
to find a single plausible reason for the President of APPNA
to honor you and we consequently request you to return the
plaque of recognition back to APPNA," the doctors demanded.
"Mr Advani we truly regret this inconvenience but we
believe that it is prudent on our part to rectify this grave
lapse in judgment by our President urgently before it becomes
a permanent symbol of shame for APPNA."
Some Pakistani-American doctors have placed advertisements
in New York-based Pakistani newspapers denouncing Dr. Malik
and demanding his resignation.