Computers for Pakistan – By R. Siddiqui

Computers for Pakistan – By R. Siddiqui

Every once in a while, this reporter comes across an event that is a joy to cover. The Hidaya Foundation did provide such an opportunity on Sunday, August 20th as a part of its South Asia Technology Literacy Program, focusing on Computers for Pakistan at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, California. This fundraiser and panel discussion was arranged by Hidaya to attempt to scratch the surface of a problem, the huge digital void that exists in the rural and disadvantaged sections of Pakistani society (a very large segment of the total population).
One can argue that this is a wonderful way for Pakistani-Americans to celebrate their Independence Day, one that goes way beyond the song and dance ritual, which we traditionally utilize to mark the August 14 event in North America. Now I am all for the song and dance performance and the sharing of our Pakistani and Muslim identity in the United States. But while doing so, one should not forget about the present problems and the future of our country of origin. And to try and do something about it, like Hidaya is attempting to do, deserves not just our encouragement but our active support too.

There is so much untapped talent in Pakistan that needs an opportunity to blossom. In the brief conversation that I had with the very pleasant Waseem Baloch, President and CEO of Hidaya Foundation, he said that when he saw and heard youngsters in rural Pakistan, he got the feeling that they are smarter than him . He said that all these young people lack is opportunity and the tools necessary to succeed. Computers, obsolete here and basically gathering dust in our garages (even early model Pentiums), could provide that opportunity of learning to not only the rural population of Pakistan, but even some urban areas. Baloch Sahib, Atif Rehman and Dr. Rahman A. Soomro were instrumental in putting together this very worthwhile effort.

The event was introduced by Mr. Moin Ghatala and started with a recitation from the Holy Qur an by Zafar Khan of the Watan ki Awaz Radio Program. Atif Abdul Rehman gave a good presentation of what Hidaya is trying to accomplish and the many reasons (in my opinion) why this caravan of hope should travel to many areas of our community in North America. To not only raise funds but to help those in need in Pakistan waiting for basic technology that can be made available by cleaning out our homes and garages of used computers. Salim Mastan added the fervor of Pakistan’s Independence Day in his short speech and said that we can produce the best software in our country of origin by starting and continuing these kinds of efforts.

Our Arab American friend Omar Ahmad of the CAIR organization conducted the fundraising activity on behalf of Hidaya. At last count, close to $ 15,000 (fifteen thousand) were raised to aid in the purchase, shipping and other logistics of computer hardware transfers to Pakistan. We thank Omar for doing his usual great job here too and always. Pakistani support for CAIR remains stronger than ever.

A panel discussion moderated by Azmat Tanauli was well received. The participants Safwan Shah, Umair Khan, Syed Mustafa, Salman Akhtar and Baloch Sahib had unique insights to offer. This reporter had to leave for another event in Sacramento (which ended earlier than it should have so I missed it), so I could not stay for a more detailed writing on that segment here. The Hidaya Foundation can be reached via the internet at http://www.hidaya.org.

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