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Indian and Pakistani Canadians unite for quake relief

Pakistan-Canada Association and Radio India hope to jointly raise several thousand dollars from a telethon.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2005 12:02 IST

Indians and Pakistanis living in Canada are making joint efforts to raise funds for victims of Pakistan's devastating Oct 8 quake.

The Pakistan-Canada Association and Radio India hope to jointly raise several thousand dollars from a telethon on Oct 12 to 13.

"We hope to raise between $200,000 to $300,000 ... Apart from the telethon, we are also holding an `Iftar' fundraising dinner," Sabir Ali Pannun, chairman of the association, told IANS.

The fundraising breaking-fast dinner priced at $25 per person will be held at the Grand Taj Banquet hall in Surrey, British Columbia.

In addition, the association has set up an emergency account to collect donations. All the funds collected would be sent to the President's Relief Fund, Pannun said.

Several mosques and community organisations in parts of Canada such as Vancouver and Greater Toronto Area (GTA) where members of the Pakistani community are concentrated have organised similar fundraising efforts.

The Islamic Foundation of Toronto (IFT) has committed to spending $25,000 for relief work while under its umbrella, the Canadian Muslims Relief Council which includes 15 mosques and community organizations from GTA, aims to raise $1 million.

"Ramadan is a month of caring and sharing ... we are appealing to our community to give their zakah -- giving of a specific share of one's wealth and savings to persons or causes as mentioned in the Quran - for those in need in Pakistan right now," Mohammed Alam, president of IFT, told IANS. "We will spend every penny we receive for relief and will not retain anything for administrative expenses," he added.

Alam said two Pakistani Canadian physicians have left for Muzaffarabad, while the foundation has hired three local physicians and nurses to begin medical work immediately.

Alam was among dozens of community and religious leaders whom Prime Minister Paul Martin met on Oct 11. "The government of Canada is establishing a fund to match all public donations made over the next two weeks to support qualifying projects from Canadian NGOs," assured the prime minister.

Considering the magnitude of the calamity, the federal government has increased its pledge for relief from $400,000 announced soon after the disaster to $20 million.

This includes $1 million to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help address the immediate need for shelter, food, clothing and medicine, and $700,000 to the World Food Programme Joint Logistics Centre for fuel and staff support to the overall logistics coordination efforts.

"Canadians are saddened by the devastation and loss of life in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan ... . We extend our sincere condolences to the governments and people of the region, and our thoughts are with the many citizens who have lost loved ones, homes and possessions," a statement from the prime minister's office said.

The Canadian government is contributing $5 million for the deployment of two helicopters through the United Nations in support of all humanitarian aid agencies working in the affected area of Pakistan.

These helicopters will be made available for three months to carry out assessments and ferry relief workers and supplies to the affected communities.

First Published: Oct 13, 2005 12:02 IST