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US Indians, Pakistanis reach out together to quake victims

They needed no coaxing to come together to raise medicines, blankets and cash donations for relief work in the aftermath of Saturday’s massive earthquake

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NEW YORK: Indians and Pakistanis living in the US needed no coaxing to come together to raise medicines, blankets and cash donations for relief work in the aftermath of Saturday’s massive earthquake. Syed Asif Alam, chief of the Association of Pakistani Physicians (AOPP), said that the Indian and Pakistani communities in the US had raised thousands of dollars and were hoping to reach a target of one million.

“We have the same concerns for missing family members and friends at home. We are pooling our resources to raise cash for people back home,” said Alam. “It is a time for unity. The quake has left so many kids without a family, so many families without a home. We need to do our bit to rebuild,” he said. Mosques throughout the US have been making collections at prayers as well as setting up counselling services for workers out here who are making frantic phone calls to trace their families and cope with loss.

Jackson Heights has one of the United State’s largest Indian and Pakistani populations and the council believes more than 5,000 of its residents’ family may have affected. Collection buckets for donations have been placed in all the main council buildings.

“My colleagues and I have collected cash, medicines and blankets. We will distribute the relief supplies in Kashmir and Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province,” said Arvind Joshi, a naturalised American engineer who was born in Mumbai.  

The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on American Muslims to help the quake victims. “Just as Americans came together to help the victims of the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes, we must do whatever we can to help those suffering in South Asia,” said Ibrahim Hooper , spokesman for CAIR. The Pakistan High Commission has set up stands at airports to provide emergency visas for those travelling to Pakistan.

New York businessman Imran Hafeez told DNA that six members of his family had been confirmed dead, including several children. He was preparing to return to his birthplace of Muzaffarabad to look for two of his sisters, who were both missing.

“We’re struggling to get news from home. It is hard to tell who is alive or dead because the phone lines are either down or busy. I just need to get to home to Muzaffarabad,” said Hafeez. 

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