Chicago Roundup
Acclaimed Pakistani Writer Meets the Community
By Dr. Mujahid Ghazi

Luna and Rasched Banuri hosted a luncheon last Friday in honor of Daniyal Mueenuddin, an acclaimed Pakistani-American writer. It was organized by Rizwan Kadir, President, Pakistan Club, Booth School of Business at University of Chicago. Select members of the community were invited to talk to the author about his book, a short story collection set in the rural southern Punjab. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders has eight interlinked stories. They are all fiction but based on the writer’s observations at his farmhouse on the land he inherited from his father.

The community members present at the luncheon questioned him about the book and his work. Some of them apparently were not comfortable with the way the Pakistani culture was portrayed in his book. The author didn’t try to defend himself but said the writings reflected his observations. Good or bad the stories depict the life of people in the feudal society of Pakistan. He was asked why his book, which was translated in many languages, has not yet been translated in Urdu. He said he doesn’t want it to be translated in Urdu and that he has written it for the western readers and fears persecution if it is translated in Urdu or any regional language of Pakistan. Later he read a passage from the story ‘Nawabdin Electrician’.

Mueenuddin was the recipient of the 2010 Rosenthal Family Foundation Award given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders was the winner of The Story Prize for 2009. The collection was also a finalist for the 2009 National Book Awards, the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, the 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the 2010 Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award, and the 2010 Ondaatje Prize. In addition, it was selected among TIME magazine's top ten books of the year, Publishers Weekly's top ten books of 2009, The Economist's top ten fiction books of 2009, The Guardian's best books of the year, The New Statesman's best books of the year, and The New York Times' hundred best books of the year.

One of his short stories, "Nawabdin Electrician", was selected for the Best American Short Stories of 2008. Another story, "A Spoiled Man", was selected for the 2010 edition of The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories.

 

Pakistan Flood Relief Benefit Dinner at UIC

‘Together we can make a difference’ was the theme of the fundraising dinner and silent auction held at the University of Illinois in Chicago. More than two hundred faculty, students and members of Pakistani American community showed up to help the flood victims in Pakistan. Sanjay Dharmapuri, Co-President of South Asian Medical Students Association, welcomed the guests and mentioned all the sister organizations that helped to organize the event. Dr. Memoona Husnaian, Associate Professor and Director of Research, Department of Family Medicine in UIC, recognized the organizing team and explained the purpose of the event. Later students introduced the panel of speakers which included Dr. Thomas Gavagan, Associate Head, Department of Family Medicine, UIC; Ms. Caroline Theus Swinney, Director of Community Relations, UIC; Dr. Mujahid Ghazi, President Asian Broadcasting Network; and Atena Lodhi, 4 th Year Medical Student at Rush University Medical College. Dr. Gavagan talked about his experience of Hurricane Katrina. He emphasized the need for better emergency preparedness. Ms. Swinney emphasized inter-community unity to support causes like this flood relief effort. Dr. Mujahid Ghazi gave a brief overview of his recent visit and flood relief efforts in Pakistan. Ms. Lodhi, who volunteered as medical student during Katrina disaster, talked about her experience and stressed the importance of students’ involvement in such causes.

Later, the panel answered questions from the audience. Responding to a question Dr. Memoona Husnain mentioned that the funds raised during the event will go to Imran Khan’s organization. Earlier, a video of Imran Khan’s message was played in which he claimed that TIP is adopting hundred villages for rehabilitation. Shahid Choudhry, Research Data Manager and a PhD fellow at the School of Public Health, thanked the panel of speakers and the attendees.

A silent auction was also conducted during the event. The fundraiser was jointly organized by student and physician bodies of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Rush University Medical Center.

 

Community Roundtable at Anjuman e Saifee Mosque in Willowbrook

A community roundtable meeting was held at The Anjuman-e-Saifee Mosque in Willowbrook last Thursday. The roundtables, a routine since 9/11/2001, are organized in major cities every three months by the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL). The purpose of the meetings is to bridge the gap between Muslims and the government, especially federal security agencies like FBI, ICE and others. The Sikh community is also part of these meetings. The representatives of various government agencies working under the Department of Homeland Security and the representatives of various community organizations exchange concerns and educate one another on policy matters.

The meeting was the most well attended in the recent past with 31 representatives of the Muslim and Sikh organizations and 13 representatives of various departments under DHS. Ms. Kara Dansky from Impact Assessment Section of CRCL introduced her department and its role. Aamir Chalisa made a presentation about Anjuman-e-Saifee.

Issues discussed included security screenings at the airports, immigration and naturalization matters and role of DHS and CRCL. Kareem Shora from the Community Engagement Section of CRCL moderated the proceedings. A very sumptuous dinner was served after the meeting.

An appreciation award and gift was given to Ms. Laura Feldman who used to be the community relations liaison for the FBI. She thanked the community members and CRCL for her recognition.

 

Fundraising dinner to support Sungi Development Foundation’s Flood Relief Efforts

A fundraising dinner was organized to support Sungi Development Foundation’s flood relief effort

Founded in 1989 by Late Omar Asghar Khan as a rights-based development organization, Sungi Development Foundation has been playing a leading role in promoting good governance, people’s rights, poverty alleviation, community development work at the grassroots, and providing relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction services to the affected people of the disaster hit area in Hazara and AJK. Sungi’s outreach extends to local, national, regional and international forums.

The program started with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Hafiz Nadeem Malik of Sada-e-Pakistan.

Mr. Naimat Choudhry welcomed the guests and briefly explained the conditions in the flood affected regions of Pakistan.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky informed the audience of the US Congress’s recent appropriation of funds for the Pakistan flood victims. She stressed involvement at the grassroots level, both in political and social movements.

Representative from the Cook County president’s office drew the attention of the audience to an official letter from President Todd Stroger to all employees directing them to donate generously for flood relief in Pakistan and for writing the checks to support Sungi. Cook County has almost 2500 employees. County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown was also present at the fundraiser.

Community activist Ali Bakhtiari in a very emotional speech appealed to the audience to help the needy and affected population in Pakistan. Quoting from the Holy Qur’an and Hadith, Muslim League-N leader Raja Yaqub emphasized the importance of charity in Islam. He said now is the time that we show unity to help the victims of floods in Pakistan. Said Umer Khan, one of the main organizers of the fundraiser, spoke in detail about the situation in Pakistan. Chief organizer of the event Shaheen Pervez spotlighted the crisis with the help of a video presentation and pictures. Naila Mughal, Rashid Bokhari and Humayun Khan performed in the entertainment session without charging any money. Well known DJ and singer Raja Zahid also offered his services without any compensation. Tahoora Sweets provided free appetizers while the delicious dinner was provided by Chopal Restaurant’s Ali on highly subsidized rates. Mr. Dev of Northshore Banquets provided the space free of charge.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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