Back in the Saddle


By M. Shahid Yousuf


Looking out of the window of one’s hotel room on arriving in the Marriott Downtown Hotel, Louisville, one is greeted by this sight. The significance of the spectacle is not lost on the viewer specially if he is from Pakistan. For one the scene seems to symbolize the relative harmony of Judaism and Christianity in US.  Both religions coexisting side by side. One is at once reminded of the precarious perception of being a Muslim and out of the loop, of being marginalized and ignored. This perception is illusory and does not take into account the complexities of human behavior and search for fair play in the affairs of the people of this country. 

By evening banquet on Saturday, the attendees were pleasantly surprised to learn that many Pakistani physicians are working in the Jewish Hospital. What is more that the CEO of that hospital was invited to the APPKI (Association of Pakistani Physicians of Kentucky and Indiana, an APPNA affiliate or chapter). Appearances can be deceptive. This places a burden on Muslim physicians who if they go on to make centers of learning and service, they too in turn will have to accept the presence of physicians of all religions Hindus Jews or Druze. 

But now back to the main theme of where APPNA stands today. For some time the perception has been that we are being sidelined in the affairs of this nation. An indication of this can be seen when last year in Rosen’s Creek Resort, Orlando, FL, during APPNA’s annual summer meeting,  Hillary Clinton the presidential aspirant refused to allow any photographs to be taken during PakPacs Saturday afternoon luncheon. The given reason was “security” concerns. Whether one accepts being photographed as a grave threat to national security or not is a matter of personal opinion. Attendees were surprised to learn of this purdah nasheen nostrum floated by the Hillary campaign team. This writer had to surrender his photo gear at the registration desk, the only time this has occurred in this writer’s experience for over 25 years of attending APPNA functions. Of course one could get a photo session for mega wads of dollar bills  with Hillary in a separate adjacent  room where flash guns were popping like popcorn out of the hopper. The contrast between the Indian expatriate community and Pakistanis was highlighted when one picked up a copy of India Abroad publication outside a desi store and saw photo of a hall jam packed with Indian expatriates, turbans and all, listening to Hillary touting her talent. If it was a security risk during Pakistani physicians gathering, it certainly was no less a risk amongst Indians but that is precisely the point. We seemed to have been a lesser people then. A few years earlier Hillary had even returned political campaign contributions during her run for the U.S. Senate from New York. 

Have things changed? To this writer, the tide is turning. The recent Executive Council meeting in Louisville, KY was a major success from a variety of view points Forget the food, funkaar, fun and frolics. That is always APPNA’s fare. This time after a long hiatus, one got the feeling that we are being taken seriously. The meeting was graced by none other than the Governor Steven L. Beshear, Lt. Governor of Kentucky Daniel Mongiardo, MD and a Senatorial  candidate Greg Fischer from Kentucky. 

Additionally the Government of Pakistan chose the Kentucky Governor to convey awards to APPNA for charitable and humanitarian service to the people of Pakistan. Drs. Abdul Rashid Piracha, Afzal Arain and Mahmood Alam received the award on behalf of APPNA. The Governor of Kentucky seemed to be more aware of APPNA’s charitable and humanitarian missions stretching from the Indonesian islands to hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans, than  even the attendees from APPNA’s membership. His awareness was due to a number of factors. First and foremost APPNA has been charitable from its very inception; the details of which will come out in due time. For another many individuals have given countless hours and continue to do so to this very day to further APPNA’s mission here and in Pakistan. The way in which  the Governor described APPNA’s mission seemed to come right out of APPNA’s websites. The most recent addition has been the Social Welfare and Disaster Relief Committee’s website created and maintained by a tireless worker Dr. Mansoor Alam of Illinois. With the ongoing work that was begun during 2006 under the Communications Committee Chair Dr. Sajid Chaudhary, the website has become far more reflective of APPNA’s work. Dr. Ismail Khawar the new Chairman of Communication Committee intends to take this process still further.

The Kentucky EC meeting also showcased the emerging new volunteers of APPNA. I was able to make acquaintance of Dr. Muhammad Masroor who was also one of the persons responsible for the success of this function. He  is the president APPKI 2008-2009.Others were also responsible for the success. I was not able to meet them and so cannot mention all of them. As many  on the listservers know I do not have any access to upper echelons of APPNA. Thus the major players in  this all deserve credit. They are too many here to be mentioned individually.

By the end of the banquet one came away with the distinct impression that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are back in the game.


As if the previous banquet night euphoria was not enough. Departing members of APPNA were greeted by Dr. Muhammad Babar Cheema  was the editor of the publication specially published for the occasion was putting his services to use in personally driving APPNA members from the hotel to the airport. I do not know how many trips he made and he made many before he invited our group Drs. Afzal Arain, Latafat Hamzavi and this writer. He must have made other trips after our departure. I ask the readers where else do you get this kind of hospitality?

For some PHOTOS click here.

Hit Counter

Nostrum = a usually questionable remedy or scheme