The Islamic Post Blog

Manager of American Muslim Medical Relief Team Refused Time to Continue Work by Khalida
December 5, 2012, 9:01 pm
Filed under: 2009 June Vol. 1, Front Page News, World
Senior Southeast Asia Correspondent for the Islamic Post and American Muslim Medical Relief Team manager, Atiq Shahid.

Senior Southeast Asia Correspondent for the Islamic Post and American Muslim Medical Relief Team manager, Atiq Shahid.

June Vol. 1 2009

By Abu Rashid Qadri
Islamic Post Staff Writer

On May 19, Mr. Atiq Shahid, Senior Southeast Asia Correspondent for the Islamic Post, visited the Pakistan Consulate on East 65th Street, in New York City, to apply for a Pakistan visa. Mr. Shahid was traveling on the May 28 PIA flight to Islamabad. What should have been an easy accomplishment became a complex affair when Mr. Shahid was faced with one obstacle after another.

Mr. Shahid is no stranger to Pakistan as over the last quarter century he has traveled there numerous times as a correspondent, on assignment and as a Good Will Ambassador, coordinating and participating in a number of humanitarian relief efforts, including assisting Kashmiri refugees. Most recently, Mr. Shahid managed and led the American Muslim Medical Relief Team (AMMRT), a contingent of medical professionals, to the quake-ravished region of Pakistan where they were stationed at the Ayyub Medical Center in Abbottabad.
When AMMRT arrived at the medical facility, they witnessed the substandard treatment of patients, dirty linen, drugs and medical supplies being stored in the basement, and other deplorable conditions. Patients did not even have clean bed sheets on which to be treated. The team worked 24/7 to improve conditions and extended their stay at great cost to themselves. AMMRT also sent for additional personnel, as well as medical and relief supplies. All these efforts were coordinated by Mr. Shahid, who greatly encouraged the team’s efforts.
“One thing for sure, we virtually killed ourselves working with only 2 or 3 hours rest a day for the months we were there,” recalled Mr. Shahid. “Even at the Kashmiri refugee camps, our ladies stayed there distributing food, clothes, medicines and other items that were needed. We suffered a lot and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars; no appreciation or thanks was ever extended by the Pakistan government.”
This team, without hesitation or fanfare, had answered the request of the Honorable President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, when he called for immediate assistance and help from all quarters. At great sacrifice to themselves and their families and without outside assistance they financed their own flights, raised monies for medical and relief supplies, and received absolutely no assistance or even a word of appreciation or encouragement from Pakistan government officials here or abroad.
Perhaps it was too much to believe that Mr. Shahid would be treated in some way other than the cold, callous and belligerent manner that American Muslims had grown accustomed to receiving in the past. Mr. Shahid was simply requesting a three month stay, multiple entrance, one year visa that would facilitate his reporting on current events, as well as revisiting the region stricken by the earthquake to re-evaluate the needs of those still suffering, and possibly interviewing the Honorable Secretary Minister of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Mian Iftikar Hussain.
Mr. Tanweer Khalique, the expressionless Consular Attaché in the New York Office, examined the application and a copy of the letter addressed to the Secretary Minister which was to be carried and delivered. These items detailed Mr. Shahid’s itinerary and request. Mr. Shahid briefed Mr. Khalique of his and his colleagues’ past efforts in helping the government and people of Pakistan; but without even a sigh or sign of gratitude, he denied Mr. Shahid his request for a visa to continue his medical and relief work by arranging another tour for AMMRT. Mr. Khalique remained adamant and would not budge from his frigid stance.
The Honorable Khalifa, M. Hussein Abu Bakr, reflected, “The repetitive ill treatment meted out to American Muslims by Pakistan’s government representatives here in America, makes us sure that Pakistan does not like American Muslims and intentionally treats us with disdain by making the most simplest of tasks difficult.”
“We have always helped in humanitarian efforts whether or not the victims were Muslim, Christian or any other group. We were there for the victims of 9/11, Katrina, Rita and the tsunami; we will never stop helping victims of tragedy,” he concluded.

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