Pakistanis and Indians
Organize First Joint Fundraiser in Los Angeles
A Pakistan Link Report
L to R: Arif Mansuri, Sarfaraz Khan,
Sheriff Baca, Hamid Malik, Arif Merchant and a guest
Buena Park, CA: Spurning animosities
and embracing affinities, members of the Pakistani and Indian
communities in the Los Angeles area organized the first-ever
joint fundraiser in aid of the October 8 Earthquake victims
at the Jain Center Cultural Complex on Saturday, March 4.
It was a rare spectacle as members of the two communities
freely mingled and demonstrated respect for one another.
The artists of the two countries set the tone of the evening’s
proceedings as they crooned with remarkable spontaneity:
Dharkan hae Hindustan agar
Chand Pakistan hae…
Maen bhi Pakistan hoon
Too bhi Hindustan hae…
Dr. Nitin Shah
The ‘unity in diversity’
example, symbolizing the American scene, was vividly in evidence.
Said an organizer, “We are sending our politicians back
home a message.”
The proceedings started with the singing of the national anthems
of Pakistan and India. The organizers of the fundraiser were
next introduced. They included: Amrit Bhandari, Arif Mansuri,
Ashok Savla, Dilip Butani, Dr Nithin Shah, Hamid Malik, Kewal
Kanda, Kishore Kaul, Rehana Qamar, Sarfraz Khan, Siva Subramaniam,
Vipin Vadecha and Waqar Ali Khan.
The attendees generously contributed to the noble cause and
the total amount raised exceeded $80,000. The Hamilton Brewart
Insurance Agency made the largest contribution of $15,000.
COPAA gave a generous donation of $6,000. Quite a few individuals
donated $1,000 each. And there were a large number of anonymous
donators too, not to mention the kids who contributed a fair
slice of their pocket money. A three-year-old boy donated
$20. Sheriff Lee Baca, who graced the occasion with his wife,
also made a generous contribution. He has a sizable number
of admirers in the South Asian community and was warmly greeted
on the occasion.
L to R: Zafar Abbas, Shaista Alam, Faizan
Mehdi, Sarika, Charenjeet, Tahir Hussain, Leena Benjamin
and Arshad Ali
In his brief remarks on
the occasion, Mr Hamid Malik, President, COPAA informed the
gathering that it was the “vision of one person”,
Dr Nitin Shah, a local anesthetist, that helped in organizing
the joint fundraiser.
Mayuri Patel and Kirti Patel
Addressing the gathering,
Dr Shah explained how the idea of the fundraiser came to his
mind. In January this year he was in the quake affected areas
where he saw two boys with Pakistani and Indian flags painted
on their faces. The two appeared in complete harmony with
each other and inspired Dr Shah to draw up plans for organizing
the joint fundraiser.
Dr Shah also informed the gathering that the Shree Bidada
Sarvodaya Trust in India has shown readiness to provide artificial
limbs to the quake victims and a rapport with concerned authorities
was being established in Pakistan for this very purpose.
Mr Sarfraz Khan, CEO, Khan Construction Company, who along
with the other organizers played an active role in arranging
the program, promised that such events would be organized
more often in the future. A former body builder, Khan now
builds homes for the community in California.
Enjoying the music
A moment of silence was
observed in memory of those who had perished in the October
8 Earthquake. As usua, Zafar Abbas stood out in the role of
emcee of the program.
Speeches over, the orchestra tuned up and the artists –
Charenjeet, Leena Benjamin, Sarika, Tahir Hussain, Shaista
Alam, Arshad Ali, Mayuri Patel and Kirti Patel - gave a scintillating
performance. The musical program was highly entertaining and
the artists deserve the best superlatives for their performance
– both solo and duet songs.
The evening seemed to relay a message: Pakistan and India
could live as friends as do the US and Canada. Surely, the
people of the two countries are peace loving.