Afghans and Pakistanis Join Hands to Help Quake Victims
By Hazem Kira


Members of the Pakistani-American community who extended wholehearted support to the fundraiser

Newark, CA: The October 8 earthquake which struck Pakistan on October 8th and left 500,000 homeless and 80,000 dead, is bringing about a new found amity and cooperation among Americans of Afghan and Pakistani origin. This partnership is beginning to build a reservoir of goodwill.
Waheed A. Momand, president of the Afghan Coalition, who has been involved in the Afghan relief efforts for the last several years, has attended several recent meetings of the Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF) to provide input and advice for long-term reconstruction planning.
“Theirs is the voice of experience that we must listen to”, says Ms. Raana Faiz, veteran Pakistani activist and host of Urdu language radio program Humrahi. Ms. Faiz has been instrumental in mobilizing community activists, particularly the youth, for knowledge and expertise-based participation in the PADF resource mapping project.
There are an estimated 40, 000 Afghans and 60,000 Pakistanis in the Greater Bay Area.
“Pakistani-Americans have a much larger pool of engineers, scientists and doctors and should be able to do much more for Pakistan”, Mr. Momand said.
Helped by its expert team members that include Afzal Waheed, Jawed Umrani, Irshad Rana, Saghir Ahmed, Ahmed Kaleem Hashmi, Abdul Rahman Rafiq, Dr. Ausaf Rahman, Iqbal Ahmed, Abid Malik, and many others, the PADF is in the process of installing a system to track and record inflow of goods and services, as well as both inflow and outflow of experts.
The upcoming weekly PADF E-Letter, for example, details the departure of second Chinese medical team. The Xinhua News Agency reported that “China’s second rescue team to treat Pakistanis injured in the recent earthquake returned to Beijing Thursday after 20 days of hard work.” During this time the Chinese medical team treated over 2,000 Pakistanis and also helped train local medical staff.
“While we thank the Chinese government and their 38-member medical team for their timely help, we also need to keep an eye of the number of injured who need medical care for many more weeks or months to come, ” PADF Chair Dr. Agha Saeed said.
Expressing his appreciation for PADF’s systematic approach to resource, Mr. Momand offered to share information about grant writing proposals, resources development and media and community outreach.
In a recent interview with this author, Mr. Momend has shared his ideas and expertise with the Pakistani-American community. This interview will be published at a future date.
Community activists and observer see this interaction among Afghan and Pakistani activists as a very positive development.
Mr. Inam Chaudhry, the past president of Pakistan Association of the San Francisco Bay Area and a member of the PADF Community Outreach Team, welcomed this brotherly cooperation between the two communities. “The past and present governments of Pakistan may have had questionable Afghan policies, but we are essentially one people tied together by bonds of faith, linage, and culture.”
Similar sentiments have been expressed by a number of other community members.
“For years we have been living in relative indifference to each other, praying in the same mosques but not getting involved with each others problem, but thank God now that is beginning to change”, veteran community activist Saleem Akhtar said.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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