PTI Tsunami Hits SF Bay Area
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) SF Bay Area held a membership drive on May 19, 2012, at the popular Bay Area Restaurant Chandni in Fremont/Newark. The public meeting was called after the current team of office bearers of the chapter was dissolved in order to elect the party’s new leadership following the membership campaign.
The well-organized meeting began with the national anthem of Pakistan.
At the outset, Araf Khan, a young volunteer, welcomed the guests on behalf of the PTI. He was followed by a Power Point presentation by Javed Tufail, PTI Membership Coordinator, about the current political situation in Pakistan where corruption is not only rampant but virtually official. According to Transparency International, Pakistan was the 34th most corrupt country in the world. Tufail said that eradication of rampant corruption is a major agenda of PTI which has attracted people en masse towards the party.
He reminded the audience that according to the latest International Republican Institute (IRI) polls, the PTI is now the leading among all political parties in its growing popularity at national and provincial levels.
IRI results on the popularity of Pakistan political parties at national level showed that Pakistan Tahree-i-Insaf (PTI) was leading with 31% votes, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PMLN) is the second leading party with 27% votes and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) popularity remains intact at 16%.
About the PTI USA, Tufail pointed out that it is fully registered with US Department of Justice as a foreign political organization under Foreign Agent Registration Act ( FARA)
He said that compliance with FARAlaw allows PTI USA to:
• Lobby with the US Govt. to establish equitable and friendly relations with PTI
• Help elected US officials to understand issues and formulate policies that are vital and helpful to the people of Pakistan
• Reach out to the US-based Pakistani community by conducting PTI seminars and conventions
• Campaign within the US
Speaking about the activities of the PTI SF Bay Area, Tufail said the organization is active through PTI Webinars and appearances on local radio station. The PTI protested against drone strikes at the Beale Air Force Base.
Earlier this year, the PTI SF Bay Area hosted the first ever fund raiser where PTI leader Makhdoom Javed Hashmi was the chief guest. Around $50,000 were raised at the fundraiser.
Tufail said while promoting Pakistan's interests here remains its main objective by influencing decision-makers in the US, the PTI USA in general and the PTI SF Chapter in particular wants to extend a helping hand to the PTI Pakistan.
He appealed to the audience to become members of the PTI in order to help realize its goals and to host the PTI Chairman Imran Khan later this year. Basic Paid Membership is only $10/ month. He hoped that the PTI SF will be able to raise at least $200,000 on Chairman Khan’s next visit to Northern California.
He informed the PTI USA is now working to open new chapters in Berkeley, Sacramento and other towns.
NICOP application forms
An interesting feature of the PTI SF gathering was information about the National Identity Card of Pakistan (NICOP) that will be required if overseas Pakistanis were allowed to vote in the next elections in Pakistan.
At the PTI booths, not only NICOP application forms were available but the party volunteers were seen helping interested individuals in filling up the forms. Free photo service was also available to attach the applicant's photo with the NICOP application form.
Speaking briefly, Asia Iqbal, a well-known Bay Area community activist, urged the audience to register as voters in Pakistan through NICOP. She believed that casting ones vote was not only a political activity but a moral responsibility too to elect honest leadership.
The PTI SF Bay area gathering attracted a large crowd and ended with the customary Chandni refreshments and tea.
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