Oct. 13, 2005
By Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah
we sat over a Thanksgiving meal last weekend, we were overwhelmed by a
deep sense of gratitude as well as guilt. Gratitude for the peace, joy
and security we enjoy in Canada, but guilt for not being able to share
our good fortune with the victims of the earthquake that hit India and
Pakistan. Our hearts also went out to the victims of the immense
tragedies that have unfolded this year. From the tsunami to New Orleans;
from Darfur to Guatemala, the losses are heart-rending. But nothing has
so profoundly touched us as the earthquake in Pakistan. After all, it is
the country of our cherished childhood.
Pakistan, the land
of our birth, the country of high mountains and mighty rivers, calls on
its sons and daughters for help. For Pakistan is no ordinary nation.
What other nation has opened its arms to all and allowed a refugee child
to become its president?
Home of the
K2 Mountain, where rivers link China to the Arabian Sea, whose soil gave
birth to a 5,000-year-old Indus Valley Civilization, a place where
philosopher Sa'adi met poet Mirza Ghalib, the land that gave birth to
the Sikh religion, where Lord Buddha walked, whose majesty arrested
Alexander the Great, where mystics and saints introduced Islam as a
faith of beauty and peace, where the great Mughal Emperor Jahangir rests
forever, where poet Sachal Sarmast rose against orthodoxy while singing
on the banks of the mighty Indus.
created in the name of Islam, which, for all its faults, has never asked
for anything from us, today is calling us. Yet, we hesitate, feeling
helpless as we wonder how best we can reach out to soothe its
aside, there are urgent practical issues we have to face. The first and
most vital need is cash. The consul general of Pakistan made an
impassioned plea to Pakistani Canadians to donate to credible
organizations. Even at this critical time, there are unethical people
who could channel these sincerely donated funds to support extremist,
terrorist groups to further sectarian violence.
Within a few days,
everyone and their uncle has become a fundraiser for Pakistan. Common
sense needs to prevail and donations should be made through
internationally recognized agencies like World Vision, IDRF or the
president of Pakistan's Relief Fund.
Our plea to
Pakistani Canadians is not to restrict their efforts to small-time
religious outfits because this is not a time to become holier than thou.
Remember, England was the first country to send help, followed by Turkey
and many other non-Muslim states.
We need to donate
generously by giving to organizations that will get the funds to the
right people at the right time and right place. This is urgent. Millions
are homeless, tens of thousands dead, even more injured and wounded. We
have to help them, not just because it is the right thing to do, but
also because it is our duty. It's from the ashes of this tragedy that
stories of bravery and heroism are emerging. We need to hear more of
these stories as aid slowly pours in.
The sky is the
limit. Imagine, if every Pakistani in just the Toronto area - 200,000
strong - gave $1,000 each. Imagine what we could do to turn the tide.
Let's give until it hurts; for if it does not hurt, you haven't given