Human Development Foundation Celebrates 10th Year of Fundraising
By Dr M. Shahid Yousuf

Dr Adil Najam addresses the gathering
Tariq Aziz and Dr M. Alamgir Khan
Dr Nirma Khan writes a check. Mr Benish Ikram is in center

Results and resolution have drawn the Pakistani expatriate community of Michigan to the annual fundraisers of the Human Development Foundation year after year. It was no different on May 10th, 2008 at the Northfield Hilton, Troy, Michigan where over 500 members of the Pakistani community came together to continue the effort to alleviate poverty, promote education and community empowerment under the umbrella of HDF. The gathering included many of the community leaders including Pakistan Association of America (MI) presidents, Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America members from all over the state and even Ohio.
The fundraising efforts are a small part of the overall picture but they translate into education for those who otherwise would spend their life in poverty, ignorance and disease or disability. These HDF schools stretch through the length and breadth of Pakistan, from the kutchi abadis (temporary settlements) to the remote villages in the back roads of the vast landscape of the country.

Dr Zeenat Anwar, Tariq Aziz and Muzammil Malik

The Michigan effort of HDF is the result of many volunteers  and community leaders such as Mr. Muzammil Malik and others (too many to name here) who have built this organization. Headed by the Dr. Zeenat Anwar, who is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of HDF, and Dr. M. Alamgir Khan, President, Michigan Chapter, the organization has successfully invited many luminaries including HRH Princess Sarwat of Jordan who was the keynote speaker in 1998, the  first fundraiser event.

Prof. Adil Najam who is Frederick S.  Pardee Professor of Global Public Policy at Boston University, was the keynote speaker at this function. His command of statistics and their impact on ordinary Pakistanis made a compelling case for the involvement of expatriates in USA in the wellbeing of those they have left behind. Numbers after numbers kept coming. Forty-seven million Pakistanis living under a dollar a day, 70 million with no safe drinking water, 55 million without sanitation and 50 % with no access to health care. The impact of these statistics is staggering to comprehend though instinctively we know it all as it is all around us when we visit our former homeland. We had fallen to the 145th place amongst the community of 177 nations of the world when measured in Human Development Index (HDI). He stated that it is easier for an ordinary US resident to see a South Asian medical doctor in USA than for a South Asian to see a South Asian doctor in South Asia!
The individual excellence of Pakistani expatriates was contrasted with the collective failure of these very same Pakistanis. This contradiction was highlighted in his speech but he also stated that HDF, a collective

Dr Mujahid Ghazi

effort, had a legacy of excellence. He gave examples drawn from three notables of Pakistan: Dr. Mahboob ul Haq who coined the Human Development Index (HDI), Abdul Sattar Edhi, and Akhtar Hameed Khan of Orangi Project.
While Professor Najam’s speech appealed to intellect, what followed was a stirring address by Tariq Aziz, a notable politician and television personality from the days of inception of the Pakistani Television. His speech appealed to the raw emotions which connected with the audience. His command of Urdu and the narrative set the emotional tone for the evening. He elaborated on the Islamic tenets stressing the importance of charity. Giving his own example of being a poor man in Lahore often sleeping on park benches, he felt gratified that Lahore had sent him to the Pakistani legislature with a margin of 50,000 votes. The message being somewhat political in nature but stressing his humble roots was appreciated by the Lahorites. He auctioned one of his recent compilations of Punjabi poetry for $ 10,000. The book was bought by Dr. Nimr Ikram and Mrs. Benish Ikram of Jackson, MI. Tariq Aziz promised that a new compilation, the second edition, will be dedicated to the couple and mentioned in that volume.
Dr. Mujahid Ghazi, President, Asian Broadcasting Network and community activist also spoke and conducted the rest of the evening’s fundraising and auctioning of items, including jewelry which was donated by the audience. The evening raised well over $ 200,000 for HDF.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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