State of American Muslim Charities and Civil Rights . The “Merey Mutabiq” Host in Chicago . Award Distribution Banquets of SMCAANA and DOGANA . Music Maestro Sohail Rana Brings Nostalgia to Chicago . Famous Pakistani Singer Jawad Ahmed Makes People Dance to His Tunes . CME to Enrich Knowledge and Shopping to Make Spouses Happy . 4 th Global Punjabi Milap Highlights Work of Waris Shah
By Dr Mujahid Ghazi
“State of American Muslim Charities and Civil Rights”
On the eve of the three-day Annual Retreat of the Alumni of Sind Medical College and Dow Medical College, a very interesting and important social event entitled “State of American Muslim Charities and Civil Rights” was held at Chicago’s Westin O’Hare Hotel. Three members of the panel were high officials from Washington DC and the fourth was a local community activist. Dr. Mohammed Raza Khan, a dowite, was the moderator of this session.
Jason Blazankis, Chief Terrorist Designation Unit at the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Designations, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, US Department of State in Washington, DC, explained the procedure to designate an organization, group or individual as terrorist by the Secretary of State. He said, “As part of strategic partnership with the people of Pakistan the United States is committed over a long term to help them build a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan. To demonstrate this commitment in conjunction with Enhanced Partnership Act over the last few years we have tripled the civilian assistance to Pakistan by $ 1.5 billion per year.” He informed with this money the US is committed to developing infrastructure and providing economic opportunities to the people of Pakistan. He said out of 47 organizations in Pakistan that US government has recognized six are involved in terrorist acts against the US and inside Pakistan. He named Taliban and Lashkar e Tayyaba (LET) as main sources that collect charities through organizations like Jamat ul Dawa to collect funds which are then used for terrorist acts. He said it took years of research and intelligence to designate them as terrorist organizations.
Chip Poncy, Director for the Office of Strategic Policy in the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the US Treasury Department in Washington DC, explained how his department works and shed light on the various ways the terrorist organizations funnel the money that they collect through charitable organizations into buying arms and ammunition. He said his department makes sure that the money is spent well for the welfare of the people. He asked the audience to help his department to better understand various charities work in Pakistan so that a good relationship could be developed for the betterment of the people of Pakistan. He said that his department will keep the transparency by educating people about its strategies in this regard.
Dr. Mujahid Ghazi, a social activist, said that there is lack of understanding and awareness among many elected officials. He said, “As Pakistani and Indian Americans we are part of the national fabric as anyone else in the country.” He commended DOGANA and SMCAANA presidents Dr. Sohail Khan and Dr. Aftab respectively for accepting his suggestion of having such a meeting. He also commended the Chair of the Social Committee Dr. Mohammed Raza Khan and Karim Shora from the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to make it happen. He said by inviting the high profile panel the purpose was not only to hear from them but to ask them questions as well, which have arisen in our minds for long time. Like the similarity of names which pulls people out every now and then by TSA on airports and other such issues. He asked the officials to look into the root cause and mend it instead of dealing with it at some later stage. He also demanded that Islamophobes and hate mongers should be monitored equally with the same zeal with which the terrorists are being monitored.
Ms. Margo Schlanger, Director, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) in the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said that we make sure that the civil rights of people are not diminished in the US. She said that we make sure that the anti-terrorism, immigration enforcement, border control and community resilience missions are carried out while making sure that your civil rights would not be diminished while these missions are carries out. She said civil right is not just a constraint. She said there is democracy in US which means people are sovereign and this is true for all communities in America, including Muslims. She said that’s the reason that we have an obligation to consult you and to hear what’s going on in your communities and to feed it back into the policy-making process to make sure we have avenues of redress if anything goes wrong. She then revealed how her office works to make it happen. She said all of this is motivated by three principal values of civil rights, fairness, liberty and equality. She said that’s our mission to secure the nation while protecting these values. Later on, questions were taken from the audience and the panel graciously responded to them though some were very critical of the US policies.
Dr. Shahid Masood: The “Merey Mutabiq” Host in Chicago
Dr Shahid Masood, famous political talk show host who was banned 10 times in his journalistic career, was in Chicago last weekend to attend the SMCAANA and DOGANA Annual Retreat at the Westin O’Hare Hotel. Addressing a packed social forum he said he has learned a lot from his seniors who are also successful in their fields here in USA. Responding to a question from Dr. Jameel Farooqi about the future of Pakistan he showed discontentment on the intellectual level of the leadership. He said the news is not which comes in front of the public but the news is which is talked among people in after hours and is being stopped from broadcasting.
Dr.Rizwan Naeem commended the achievements of Dr. Shahid Masood and asked him how the media would become stronger in bringing the hidden news to the public. Responding to this question he said that when he began his career with ARY and reported the war from Kandhar, no one was there but now there are so many channels but the standard has gone down. The media doesn’t follow the news which it breaks.
Dr. Saeed Akhtar who is a well-known nephrologist working at Al-Shifa in Islamabad expressed his experience of working in Pakistan. He said there are people who have their hands on the trachea of the people. He said the paradox that exists in Pakistan has never been seen in history. There is so much disparity in different sectors. He recalled his meeting with Dr. Attaur Rehman a week before and mentioned the demise of the Higher Education Commission. He said the rotten and dirty politicians come in the talk shows and openly lie to the audience. He said there was this expectation from the media that in this age of freedom of expression it will play its role. He asked the celebrity host where we were heading.
Responding to him Dr. Shahid Masood said that it is the insensitivity of the whole nation which has brought us to this state of affairs. He said, “I wanted to bring educated people as guests like vice chancellors, educators and intellectuals but people don’t want to see them. They want to see two politicians fighting with each other on my shows.” He said they want to see morning show hosts jumping and dancing. He said the irony is that now we are told by the marketing people that this thing will sell and this thing will not sell. Media is free but also in captivity.
He mentioned the case of fake degrees which fired back when the same people were re-elected and came on the shows again. Responding to a question he said that as a nation we are a failure because from 1985 to 2011 we had a vacuum in leadership. He said, “I see the same leaders in 2011 who were leaders in 1980 and then they will be followed by their children and these children are insensitive to the issues.”
This scribe mentioned his own experience in journalism, mentioned his coverage of Lal Masjid incident and his interaction with the kids inside Lal Masjid and the statement of President Pervez Musharraf that women and children were not killed in that incident. I asked what you would do to keep the history correct. He said he would not go in that argument. He said he met General Musharraf few times after that. “He has his version and we have ours but what I did was that I invited General Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani in my show and he admitted that phosphorus bombs were used. We didn’t agree with the way Lal Masjid people acted and we didn’t agree the way it was handled by the Government.” This session continued for an extended time than it was allotted. Dr. Umar Murad from Sind Medical College, a long time friend and classmate of Dr. Shahid Masood, conducted the session masterly. Famous TV and Radio personality of the past Dr.Naghmana Farukh, Sind Medical College alumni, concluded the session by asking the guest speaker about his favorite reporting. He mentioned the reporting of earthquake and of the war zones as the most interesting ones. He said he was on air 16000 hours in ten years and there were many exciting events he covered during this period.
Award Distribution Banquets of SMCAANA and DOGANA
The banquets of Dow Medical College and Sind Medical College attracted 800 attendees. During these banquets which started with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an and the anthems of Pakistan and America host committees and people who have achieved some goals in their lives were recognized. The presidents of SMCAANA and DOGANA, Dr. Aftab Ahemd and Dr. Sohail Khan respectively, spoke about their associations and their activities during the year. The Chairs of the event, Dr. Mansoor Alam from Sind Medical College and Dr. Waseem Kaghzi from Dow Medical College, commended their host committees for doing a great job. Dow Graduates Alumni of North America (DOGANA) distributed plaques in recognition of its host committee members whereas Sind Medical College Alumni Association of North America (SMCAANA) recognized four individuals for their lifetime achievements in their respective fields.
Dr. Shahid Masood in the field of journalism, Dr. Saeed Anwer for his untiring relief activities in the disaster stricken regions of the world, Dr. Ayesha Zafar for her services for humanity as in charge of social welfare of APPNA, and Dr. Mujahid Ghazi for his community service and journalistic contribution. The events also involved the children of the Alumni who presented anthems and skits during the program.
Music Maestro Sohail Rana Brings Nostalgia to Chicago
The famous music director of yesteryear, Sohail Rana, presented a musical evening at the joint event of SMCAANA and DOGANA. Famous singer Waseem Baig and other singers sang a number of his movie and TV show songs. Sohail Rana also sang ghazals during the presentation.
Although the sound system was not up to the standard and caused restlessness in the audience as well as performers but the presentation did revive memories of the past. A group of physicians was also prepared by the music maestro to perform on this occasion; many of them were child singers in his famous children musical shows on the Pakistan TV. People enjoyed the program till the early hours of the next day.
Famous Pakistani Singer Jawad Ahmed Makes People Dance to His Tunes
Famous Pakistani singer Jawad Ahmed made the audience dance on the tunes of his famous songs during his presentation on Friday evening. Though he came two hours late on the stage than expected, people enjoyed his melodious songs till the end.
Famous Chicago-based guitarist and singer John filled his position by singing Pakistani and Indian numbers. He was successful in keeping the crowd absorbed in his masterly performance. During this time some of the people were busy outside reuniting with classmates and sharing memories. A pan shop in the neighborhood was also frequented by the attendees.
CME to Enrich Knowledge and Shopping to Make Spouses Happy
The four-day Retreat of the two very vibrant alumni associations of Dow Medical College and Sind Medical College proved to be a great success in enriching the knowledge through CME sessions and enriching the shopping experience at the jewelry and fashion boutiques. As mentioned by CME Chairperson Dr. Khadija Khan, the CME committee comprising of members from both alumni worked very hard for two months to put together an exciting group of speakers to provide ten hours of AMA category 1 credit.
The topics ranged from primary care to specialty groups. From pre-operative cardiac evaluation of surgical patients to understanding and working up for common hematologic disorders, the sessions were well attended by the physicians. Special interest was seen in the session of sleep disorders, specifically sleep apnea which is a very common undetected ailment in the South Asian population.
There was a myriad of booths with exciting informative displays by the vendors. Jewelry and clothes shops, Hajj and Umrah Travel promotions were also frequented by the attendees. The chat at the food shop helped the attendees to satisfy their hunger in between the meals which were amply provided by the organizers. Syed Mohammad Tahseen, chairperson of the booth committee, worked hard to make it a memorable experience.
4 th Global Punjabi Milap Highlights the Work of Waris Shah
Expatriates of Punjabi heritage from the Indo-Pak subcontinent met at the Holiday Inn, Des Plaines to share their work and thoughts about the life and work of great Sufi poet Waris Shah, the creator of Heer Ranjha. The participants paid tribute to the great poet of his times.
A brief but impressive play based on the story of Heer Ranjha was also presented by Drs. Arif Agha and Murtaza Arain. Punjabi Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and Muslims equally participated in this event. Dr. Iftikhar Naseem presented a paper on Waris Shah and discussed the pros and cons of his poetry.
Professor Jaginder Singh Ramdev also presented his observations on the life and work of Waris Shah. There was a Punjabi poetry session conducted by Sajid Choudhry, a local Urdu and Punjabi poet.
The event was sponsored by Asian American Seniors’ Association (AASA), Navraaz K. Productions Inc. (NKPI) and Pakistan Heritage and Cultural Association (PHACA). Thakar S. Basati a long-time Sikh community activist and media person played a major role in organizing the program.