'Rise For Pakistan' Team Meets Community in Tampa

'Rise For Pakistan USA' organized an event at the Clarion Hotel in Tampa on September 6 to meet and greet Jawad Ahmad and to introduce the organization in the community. Noreen Iqbal from Occasions by Bali volunteered to take care of the hall arrangements and other logistical issues.  Roohi Abidi and her team of students managed the registration desk.  Tariq Siddiqui, the president of Pakistani American Association of Tampa Bay, volunteered to make video while Alizay Junejo took pictures of the event.

The event was attended by about 100 people from all walks of life.  Dr Farrukh Zaidi emceed the program.  He started the proceedings by welcoming the guests and introduced Dr Shahnaz Khan who subsequently addressed the gathering. She informed that Rise For Pakistan is a not-for-profit organization and its mission is to educate, organize, and empower students, workers and other oppressed segments of society so that they could stand up for their rights. In order to achieve that goal Rise For Pakistan works with its sister organization in Pakistan and has set up the International Youth and Workers Movement (IYWM) which serves as a platform for all to come together and work towards a common goal.  She then introduced and invited Jawad Ahmad to the podium.

Jawad Ahmad spoke about the current political situation in Pakistan and the fact that none of the political parties is addressing the problems facing the poor and working class in cities as well as in rural areas and that is why masses are not relating to their agendas.  He said no one is talking about their wages, old-age benefits, health and education problems.  He said that even though the minimum wage is set by government at Rs. 12,000 most of the workers are not receiving the allocated aount.  These are the issues that need to be addressed and highlighted.  He said that trade unions are one platform through which workers can organize themselves, do collective bargaining and fight for their rights.  But in Pakistan only 2 percent of workers in the formal sectors are part of trade unions.  The situation in rural areas is even worse as peasants are not even allowed legally to form unions.  And thus they do not have the right fight for their rights.  In such circumstances how could we ever get rid of feudal system? 

later, Dr Shahnaz Khan talked about what the organization has achieved so far.  Rise For Pakistan has been in existence for only two years.  IYWM has about 800 members in 34 cities across Pakistan. "We have presence in 35 educational institutional institutions. We have produced three song videos and four short films highlighting some of these issues. We have held a large concert in Lahore to promote our message of equality of human beings. We hold regular Open Dialogue, Discussion and Debate (ODDD) session with students and Jawad Ahmad speaks at workers and peasant events. At this point we have offices in Lahore and Karachi. Our future plans include to hold rallies on various issues, file writs about land reforms (Jawad Ahmad is a petitioner in this writ) and other problems facing workers. We would like open offices and to retain many more full time workers to promote our message in all other parts of Pakistan." She asked for the audience's financial support in order to do that. For more information about the organization, please visit www.riseforpakistan.org



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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