APPNA President Tenders Apology
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 was cited.
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 members.
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, DC."
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 and prayers".
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.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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