Pakistan Caucus Holds Special Session for Earthquake Relief
By C. Naseer Ahmad


Pictures above show Ambassador Jehangir Karamat and DCM Mohd. Sadiq with US Conressmen and guests

Washington, DC: A synergistic effort at feverish pace is underway in Washington to help the victims of the October 8, 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Leading the way, the Congressional Pakistan Caucus held a special session on October 20, 2005, at the Cannon House Office Building, for galvanizing the earthquake relief efforts. Congressional Pakistan Caucus Co-Chairs (Rep Sheila Jackson Lee and Dan Burton) hosted this event, which was called on a short notice in response to the urgent need to alleviate the sufferings of about 3.3 million Pakistanis.
Earlier on October 17, US House of Representatives passed a resolution (H.Res. 492), mourning the loss of life caused by the earthquake that occurred on October 8, 2005 in Pakistan and India under suspension of the Rules. This legislation was an effective way for members to pay respect to the many constituents they may have who represent the affected communities as well as those who perished and continue to suffer as a result of the disaster.
In a somber mood, Ambassador Jahangir Karamat said: “These are trying times for us.” He mentioned that 15,000 villages were destroyed and it might take 5-10 years to rebuild. Rep Lee informed the Pakistani American community members, some of whom traveled from other cities to attend this event, that the United States Congress stood in silence at 12:30PM on October20, 2005 to honor the victims of the earthquake. Rep Dennis Moore, Kansas, also expressed his condolences and support for the relief effort.
Assistant Secretary of State Tom Callaghan and Pakistan Desk Officer Steve Fagan also addressed the gathering. Mr. Fagan mentioned that $15 million of the $50 million initially promised US Aid had already been disbursed. He mentioned that 12 helicopters from US DoD had been sent to Pakistan and additional helicopters and aviation support equipment has been provided as material assistance. PakPAC President Dr. Raza Bokhari urged the US Congress to pledge $1billion in aid, given the nature and extent of the natural disaster. Hanif Akhtar, a Washington area Pakistani American community leader, said that with the help being planned for the earthquake relief there was an opportunity for the United States to improve her image and relations with Pakistani public. Dr. Akbar Khawaja, Pakistani Senator and some young Pakistani American leaders also addressed this gathering.
Daily updates, in the form of facts sheets on the earthquak,e are being distributed by the Pakistan American Leadership Center. Pakistan Embassy staff is playing a very active role in informing the community and in facilitating such meetings. Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), Mohammad Sadiq was seen working the phones at his office on October 19, 2005. Rep Lee, who has undertaken the relief effort with a missionary zeal, also noted DCM Sadiq for his efforts.

 

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