The Islamic Post Blog

International Quranic Open University Decries Pakistan Consulate by Khalida
December 1, 2008, 1:04 am
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, International, travel, World | Tags: , ,

By Muhammad Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer

Part One

In the third week of November, staff and students of the International Quranic Open University (IQOU) received “unjust treatment” at the hands of the Pakistani Consulate General’s office in New York City.
Upon application, Islamic Post Senior Reporter, Khadijah Smith, Nuriyah Nisaa Brooks, staff writer and teacher; along with her assistant, Saminah Abdul Jalil, were denied visas of more than 30 days for their assignments.
On Monday, November 17, IQOU staff members experienced a “tremendous amount of difficulty” upon their visit to the Pakistani consulate where the correspondents were denied the 3 month visas. In what seemed a display of showmanship, the staff were then told to return the following day, with promises of a 45 day visa, which the consulate said would be issued “at the very least.” However, upon returning on Tuesday, only 30 day visas were issued.
IQOU staff and students remain awestruck at the way the diplomatic representatives of Pakistan rendered their thanks to the University. After having fostered decades of understanding and common ground between the United States and Pakistan, IQOU received shortened lengths of stay; whereas –according to the Pakistan Interior Division website– American correspondents normally receive the three month time period that had been requested by the IQOU division, the Islamic Post. On the other hand, tourists are allowed stays up to six months.
The deputy director insists that this is not the first incident in which IQOU staff and students were ill-treated at the consulate for no apparent reason. “This is ingratitude, the same ingratitude with which the University was treated in 2005 when we came to the consulate, supplies in hand, to help victims after the first earthquake,” IQOU Deputy Director, Khalifa Muhammad Hussain Abu Bakr told the Islamic Post. “What does it say about the diplomatic efforts of those on the receiving end to behave in this manner? It is unbecoming,” The American Muslim Medical Relief Team, which operates under the auspices of IQOU, sent doctors and nurses who left their families in 2005 to assist victims in Pakistan. The team rendered medical treatment, free of charge, to innumerable earthquake victims at the Ayub Medical Hospital Complex in Abbottabad. Working tirelessly, and without salary, team members became heroes of the day in Pakistan, and back home as well. The three men and five women dispatched to Abbottabad brought with them much needed medical supplies, food, army-type canvas tents, woolen blankets, sweaters, and other warm clothing for the thousands of men, women, and children who were left without homes, shelter, or a means to keep warm as cold temperatures swept the mountainous regions, which had been hardest hit. The supplies were distributed in Azad Kashmir and the Mansehra area. IQOU saved lives in areas from which other, perhaps more well-known, workers pulled out in despair regarding the devastating medical crisis and constant subsequent deaths. The American Muslims, clearly visible and in uniform, won over the hearts of patients and set an example for the local staff. Eid found them distributing sweets and juices to the patients.
For their part, IQOU staff and students, in the USA, launched diligent telethon fund-raisers in the United States and Canada; most even went door to door soliciting donations. Given the manner in which Pakistan is represented in the media, this was no easy task; yet, American and Canadian non-Muslims and Muslims gave generously, their hearts having been struck by the overwhelming human catastrophe which, as the weeks ensued, was becoming a humanitarian failure.
Staff members repeatedly asserted that the New York consulate should be able to differentiate between friend and foe, and insist they “would be in Balochistan right now helping the people,” but insufficient support is being lent by the consulate.
Clothing and other non-perishables were to be delivered by journalists of the Open University for the 20,000 displaced victims of October’s Balochistan earthquake. The Pakistani Embassy issued a general request for aid for Balochistan in the beginning of November; it is inconceivable that the consulate in New York, while subordinate to the embassy, would not be of the utmost assistance to the University staff in their quest to aid the people of Pakistan,
IQOU is already taking further steps to address the matter. The Honourable Saqib Rauf, Vice Consul General, is currently being contacted directly with the grievances of the University; if necessary the University intends to contact the Embassy directly to rectify the matter.     -Aisha Abdallah contributed to this report.


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