20th SANA Convention - A Successful and Memorable Event
By: Khalid Hashmani.
The 20th annual convention of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) successfully took place from July 2 to July 5 in Houston, Texas. The venue of the convention was the Westin Galleria hotel , located in the Galleria Shopping Center located in uptown Houston. The three-day convention was packed with a variety of sessions and activities bringing Sindhiat (love for Sindh) to each and every attendee. The organizers had done a wonderful job to ensure every one's comfort and smooth flow of events. The local organizing committee consisted of Jamil Daudi (chairperson), Zafar and Adi Zeb Agha, Bashir Shaikh, Waheed Patoli, Aamir Memon, Mazhar Memon, Ghulam Mohiuddin Memon, Talat and Adi Nicki Talpur, Sohail Soomro, Altaf Soomro, Tashfeen and Adi Samar Brohi, Majid Laghari, Taj Nizamani, Shafiq Nizamani, Salman Nizamani, Saeed Chang and Faisal Lashari. They did a wonderful job ensuring every one's comfort and offering an unforgettable hospitality of Sindh and Texas. Indeed it a one of the most memorable Sindhi event that will be remembered by all who attended.
FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2004 - REGISTRATION & SANA EC AND AC MEETINGS
Many of the attendees had arrived on the evening of Friday, July 2 and completed their registration in the majestic lobby of convention facility. The members of the SANA Executive Council (EC) and Advisory Committee (AC) met late in the evening to go over the convention arrangements and other association matters.
SATURDAY, JULY 3, 2004 - SANA GENERAL BODY MEETING (9:30 AM to 12:00 Noon)
The SANA General Body meeting started around 9:30 AM with a prayer-poem from Shah Abdul Bhittai, which was beautifully rendered by Shoukat Ansari. Zafar Agha co-chair of Local Organizing Committee remembered the recent untimely deaths in the North American Sindhi community that followed a two-minute silence in their memory. In his address, he welcomed every one and thanked all members of the local organizing committee and the Houston's Sindhi community, who had donated $ 16,000 (Sixteen thousands) to cover part of the convention expenses. He invited the current members of the SANA Executive Council (EC) to take their chairs at the stage.
KOHSHER AHMED (SANA Information Secretary) was the first office bearer to present his report. He welcomed every one and thanked local members for their efforts and hard work in organizing the convention. Among the achievements of the present EC, he sited SANA Web site, regular publication of SANGAT newsletter, and joining hands with other Sindhi organizations to lobby for Sindh and Sindhis. He appealed every one to provide help to make SANA stronger and support efforts to alleviate plight of Sindhis.
The SANA Treasurer (SHOUKAT ANSARI) provided highlights from an unaudited report and informed that the total number of paid members including the life memberships for the past four years were: 132 (2001), 136 (2002), 157 (2003), and 156 (so far in 2004). He noted that current membership roster including unpaid members stand about 600. He further added that normally the paid memberships increase in an election year and thus expected this year's membership to increase substantially. He said that actual donations received last year only $ 10,000 against the total pledges of $ 15,000 made at the last year's convention. There were In contrast, all pledges were received in 2002. Other details from 2002 were as follows:
| Total register
||$ 13,000 + 7,000*
||$ 16,000 + TBD
| Reg. Fees
||$ 15,000 (E)
| Total Expenses
||$ 40,000 (E)
| Surplus (deficit)
||(- $ 3,000)
* Company donations (E) Estimated
He said that the present, association had about $ 49,000 in bank accounts. Out of which, in accordance with the SANA by-laws, $36,000 was set aside for a permanent SANA office and could not be spent on other activities unless the association by-laws are changed.
KHALID MEMON (Regional Secretary Mid-West - Zone III) -- Pledged to increase SANA membership in the mid-West area as several new Sindhi families have move there. So far they had organized two get-togethers and are initiating aneducation project.
KHALID CHANNA (Regional Secretary East Coast - Zone I) -- Briefed attendees about the SANA activities in the East Coast, He briefed ion several picnics, get-togethers and family gatherings. He also talked about the local New York members joining other Sindhi organizations in the protest in front of the United Nations Building against mega water projects on the Indus River during General Musharraf's visit.
JAFAR SHAH (Regional Secretary West Coast - Zone II) -- Talked about his efforts to contact many SANA Members and his efforts to maintain the SANA directory up-to-date.
SARFRAZ ABBASI (Regional Secretary South - Zone IV) -- Thanked Jamil Daudi and Zafar Agha for their hard work in organizing the 2004 SANA convention and was prod about the fact that the local chapter had collected $ 16,000 towards the convention expenses. He mentioned several well-attended gatherings of local Sindhis that have helped community members to be close to each other.
SAJJAD SIDDIQUI (Vice President/acting President SANA) - Welcomed every one and thanked the local organizing committee for the superb convention arrangements. He proudly mentioned that SANA had achieved an important milestone as it completes it first twenty years of existence and congratulated every one from the founding members to the current membership for the successes of SANA in the last two decades. He urged every one to help in increasing membership and maximize participation in the upcoming SANA elections. He announced that Zafar Agha would the chairperson of the Election Committee and promised to announce the remaining members soon.
After the speeches by the SANA EC members, AZIZ NAREJO came to the podium
and presented SANA RESOLUTIONS. As he proposed each resolution, the attendees
discussed the resolution, sometimes tabled amendments, and finally voted. The following resolutions were passed (only partial text reproduced - full text is available
on the SANA website (www.sanalist.org ):
1. UNADULTERATED DEMOCRACY
SANA demands an end to controlled democracy in the country and a stop to the intervention in the electoral and other civilian matters by military, its intelligence agencies and Rangers. It is resolved that only a true a true democracy can stabilize the situation in Pakistan and solve the problems facing the country.
Amendment proposed and approved to substitute word "Army" by "Military". Resolution carried unanimously.
2. WATER ISSUE
No new mega dams or canals be constructed until an internationally recognized body determines the quantity of water available in the Indus River System and until the lower riparian province gives an expressed assent to any project... An impartial study to be conducted immediately to establish the water needs below Kotri Barrage and at least 10 MAF water below the Kotri Barrage must be released immediately.
Resolution carried unanimously.
3. LAW AND ORDER SITUATION
SANA demands that writ of law be established in the province (of Sindh) and the people be provided complete security of their lives and possessions.
Resolution carried unanimously.
4. CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN AND MINORITIES
SANA demands immediate steps to protect women against any crimes and also calls an end to the horrible "jirga" system that perpetuates the feudal system, which is enemy of common men and women. SANA also calls for end to crimes against minorities. Resolution carried unanimously.
SANS demands substantial increase in the budget for education, setting up of excellence centers, increasing the standards of education, bringing real increase in the literacy rate and putting emphasis on girls' education (in Sindh). Resolution carried unanimously.
6. NATIONAL FINANCE COMMISSION (NFC) AWARD
The (SANA) Convention resolves that NFC award should be based on the revenue collection and contribution and Sindh should be given 67 percent of resources corresponding to its contribution. SANA also calls for the ownership of all (provincial) resources to be given to the respective provinces. Resolution carried unanimously.
7. MILITARY EXPENDITURE
SANA demands that expenditure on military be drastically cut. The armed forces be made truly federal institution with just share in all ranks to all the provinces. SANA also resolves that military budget should be scrutinized and discussed in the National Assembly and Senate just as other (budgetary) items are.
Amendment proposed and approved: To substitute word "Army" by "Military". Resolution carried unanimously.
8. PROVINCIAL AUTONOMY
SANA resolves that autonomy be granted to the provinces as agreed in the 1940 Pakistan resolution. Preservation and promotion of language and culture of all the provinces be guaranteed. All the four languages of the federating units be declared as national languages of Pakistan.Amendment proposed and approved: To substitute term "agreed during the negotiations on the subject in 1971" to "agreed in the 1940 Pakistan resolution". Resolution carried unanimously.
9. EMPLOYMENT, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SANA resolves that all the provinces should get just share in all the employment and economic development. It must be ensured that the local population gets employment in all the state-owned or private enterprises. The local areas should benefit from the exploitation of natural resources. Resolution carried unanimously.
10. DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES
SANA resolves that all the efforts to change demography in Sindh and Balochistan must end. All illegal aliens must be repatriated and genuine efforts be made to provide employment/livelihood to all the people of Pakistan in their own areas to check inter-provincial migration. Resolution carried unanimously.
11. ALLOTMENT OF LAND TO MILITARY
SANA resolves that there should be an immediate end to allotment of agriculture, commercial and other lands to military personnel and other outsiders in Sindh and Balochistan. Such allotments be canceled and the same be allotted to the local landless people.
Amendment proposed and approved: To substitute word "Army" by "Military". Resolution carried unanimously.
(Source for the text of resolutions: handout by Aziz Narejo)
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
During ancillary discussions, the following two questions were raised that led to discussions. A synopsis of those discussions is as follows:
WHY SANA DOES NOT CONTACT OTHER NORTH AMERICAN HINDU SINDHI ORGANIZATIONS ON CULTURAL COOPERATION?
In the past SANA has tried several times but it appears that there is some reluctance on both parties due to lack of confidence and trust. Where as, SANA is a secular organization and open to all Sindhis, many of the Sindhi Hindu organizations have some religious activities as well. Other reality is that some of SANA members erroneously assume that SANA is an organization of only Sindh-based Sindhis and/or want to limit SANA membership only to Sindh-based Sindhis. However, there are signs of progress as Sindhis both sides now see other communities (Urdu speaking and Punjabis) conducting joint gatherings and working on common issues. Recently a joint get-together of Sindhis from both sides in Toronto shows that trust and understanding is taking hold for common cultural heritage. We are hopeful that sooner than later all Sindhis will be eager to work together for the preservation and advancement of language and culture.
WHAT IS STATUS SANA EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM ESTABLISHED IN THE MEMORY OF DR. FEROZ AHMED (FAME)?
A four-member committee including Zafar Agha, Nawaz Ali Bhutto, Ghulam Mohiuddin, and Morai sahib is diligently working to organize activities. A detailed status report will be issued in near future.
SATURDAY, JULY 3, 2004 - KIDS CORNER (3 PM to 4:30 PM)
This session was attended by several Sindhi youth where Sindhi youngsters intermingled to make new or renewed their friendships. ZAFAR AGHA moderated the session and he took the kids on a journey through Sindh's history. Most youths were quite pleased with session as according to some; the session was quite informative and not too long.
SATURDAY, JULY 3, 2004 - GUEST SPEAKERS (2:15 PM to 4:30 PM)
A strong group of 150 persons attended this very informative and interesting session addressed by two American scholars.
DR. ALLEN KEITH is a Secretary General of World Health Association and associated with many international organizations active in education, global health, and medical field. He has published a book "Politics of Sindh and Muslim Identity in Pakistan - 1907-1940) and visited SaeeN G.M. Syed (considered by many Sindhis as the father of Sindh nationalism) in his hometown called Sann several years ago. He knows Hindi, Urdu and other Indo-Pakistani languages.
He started his address by asking audience several questions "What does Sindhi mean to you? What does it represent to you? What does being Sindhi means to your children? Without waiting for the answers from audience, he went ahead and explained the peaceful nature of Sindhi folks, they have rich history, they have selfless culture, and strong identity. He added that he will never forget his visit to Sindh and will always cherish those memories. He said "There is something unique about Sindhis, that you just don't find in other Pakistani compatriots". When you meet Sindhis, they always want to talk about heritage and civilization. In contrast, the people of Punjab are more interested about places and features of their province. Talking about his book, he mentioned that the Sindh's decision to join Pakistan was strongly influenced by the success of Sindhi Muslim politicians in separating from Bombay. This troubled the Hindu Sindhi politicians and the two sides were never able to fully bridge that gap after that. He said he awarded a Fullbright scholarship to do research mainly about who were leaders of the movement to create Pakistan and what contributions were made by Sindhi leaders in creating Pakistan. During his research, he met several English scholars (Francis Woody, Hugh Dow, and others) and traveled to Sindh, where he met Hatem Alvi, two Rashdi brothers, and other scholars and leaders. During that visit, at the invitation of G. M. Syed, he went to Sann and stayed with him for few days while he was under house arrest. He recited a very interesting story that while SaeeN G. M. Syed was showing his library, he noticed several areas in book shelves no books. Upon his inquiry, SaeeN G. M. Syed said that because he was not sure about the next actions of the government, he had arranged to store some of the sensitive and important papers buried underground to be opened only after his death. He added, he recently asked SaeeN G. M. Syed's grandson about this and was surprised to learn that he had not heard anything about that.
DR. JONATHAN MARK KENOYER is a professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin and a co-director of Harpa project. He made a slide presentation titled "Sindh and the Indus Valley Civilization: Textile and Ornament Traditions". He has lived in India for 18 years and speaks Hindi, Sindhi, and Urdu very fluently. Through the story of textile and ornaments found at Moen-jo-daro and Harpa, he demonstrated the rich culture and heritage of Indus valley civilization. He said that Sindh was far more advanced center in textile and ornament technologies than other civilizations of those days including Europe. Sindh was one of the most important trading centers of the world. Tracing the roots of the Indus River, he said in old days there were actually two rivers flowing in the Indus valley - one was called Sindhu and other the Nara River and Indus valley's fertile and green regions were twice as large as is today. He added that some of the old methods for making garments and ornaments are still practiced by "Kanbiri" or "Jogis". The region was an important source of quality wool and silk and producing coloring dyes extracted from plants (for example, indigo plant). The trade practices and advanced manufacturing methods made Sindh a very large importer of raw materials and exporter of finished goods. The people of Indus valley had a common and uniform weighing system. In contrast in most other parts of the world, individual cities had their own weighing systems makes inter-regional trading rather difficult. He added there is no evidence of people killing people, something akin to the sufi thinking prevalent in present day Sindh. He said that difference between "culture" and "civilization" is that a civilization generally is made up of many cultures. For example, various provinces of present-day Pakistan belong to the ancient Indus valley civilization and yet each province has own flavor of culture. Answering to a question about whether Indus valley was composed of single nation or many nations, he replied that in old days the concept of "nation" was not the same as today. The nations as defined within the confines of geographic-political boundaries were limited to very small regions. The modern concept of a "nation" developed as small regions got merged or absorbed into larger entities.
SATURDAY, JULY 3, 2004 - DINNER FOLLOWED BY MUSIC PROGRAM (7 PM to 12:00 AM)
The local Sindhis of Houston had arranged a delicious dinner at a near-by Mediterranean restaurant. Although, the restaurant was less than quarter of mile away from the hotel, the gracious hosts organized an army of volunteers to transport guests. The dinner was delicious and the musical program that followed later at the hotel was also excellent.
SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2004 - MEDICAL AND BUSINESS SEMINARS (10:00 Am -11:00 AM
AIJAZ TURK moderated the medical seminar segment. In addition to him, SATTAR SHAIKH, and RAFAT ANSARI made formal and informal presentations. A general public oriented lectures on the causes and preventative measures were made about coronary diseases, diabetics, various forms of cancer, Hepatitis and other gastroenteritis diseases. To stop the alarming rates of lung cancer in developing countries, the need to start "stop smoking" campaigns was emphasized. The increasing rates of Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis in Pakistan were connected to lack of clean drinking water and inadequate health facilities. FAROOQ SOOMRO made a business presentation on his companies Sindh-based outsourcing services including transcribing and call center available to medical practitioners and facilities. He said the management of his company was mainly Sindhi and the company was supported by a financially strong investors.
NAIM MEMON moderated the "Business" segment seminar. Ms CARMEN ALVAREZ talked about the Harris county medical help services available to women, infants, and children who live in the County. Mr. BAQAR SHAH made a presentation titled "Creating Value and Sustainable Competitive Advantage". He talked about how to gain competitive advantage by knowing your competitor and your customer.
SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2004 - LADIES PROGRAM (12:30 PM - 2 PM)
In keeping with previous years, this year's ladies session was attended mostly by ladies, although some gents sat at the back of room to support the session. Apart from talking about their interests, Adi ZEB AGHA tabled some serious issues such as "KARO KARI" that attracted some serious discussion. Included in this session was a beautiful song sung by adi Roshan Ara Talpur was a vivid reminder of Mai Bhagi and Rubina Quraishi era (Source: Nazia Junejo's posting)
SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2004 - BRAINSTORMING SESSION (2:15 PM - 4 PM and 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM)
The theme of the session was "WHAT CAN NORTH AMERICAN SINDHIS
DO ALLEVIATE PLIGHT OF SINDHIS" and was moderated by KHALID HASHMANI and was planned by him and Adi NAZIA JUNEJO. Although only 25-30 participants were expected, more than 70 persons turned out for this often-heated session. To ensure tangible results, the following rules were agreed.
- Moderator will invite 5-6 persons with whom he already had discussed the theme, to present their recommendation taking no more than 3 minutes.
- After that session would be opened to all those present for one minute presentation followed by 1-minute arguments to support or oppose a recommendation.
- Each person was requested to limit their participation to one or two until every one had a chance to present their views.
- In the end all recommendations will be ranked and one or two top ones will be agreed for the implementation.
After almost two hours of discussion, where sometimes tempers flew and out-of-control situations occurred, the following recommendations were short-listed:
- Support Education of Sindhis - it holds the key if we were to succeed in alleviating plight of Sindhis
- . Have a stronger grass-roots organization of Sindhis with good structure and management for an effective struggle.
- Focus on fighting for human rights and restoring true democracyin Pakistan.
- Help Sindhis to alleviate their small and day-to-day issues such as medical treatment, offering help against police or wadera brutality, and pursuing bureaucrats to solve day-to-day problems.
- Help build a team of intellectuals, writers, poets and social workers to lead a movement.
- Undertake efforts to create a " Sindhi Think Tank" that will generate new ideas and support Sindhi organizations to fight against the plight.
- In short-term focus on "ID card" issue which is being misused in Sindh to deny participation in of Sindhis in elections and show reduced count of their population.
- Focus on local issues of Sindhis and play only a supporting role -- only Sindhis back home can effectively fight their plight.
As the time had ended, it was decided to hold second session after the "Adabi session has ended.
In the second session the discussion mainly centered on education and how to strengthen Sindhi organizational capacity in North America. The second session too was emotionally charged when some felt that we were not getting anywhere. But, as every one was resolved to have a successful conclusion. Because of this determination, the group agreed to the following two recommendations:
- The group recommended to the Executive Council/Board of Directors of SANA, WSI, and WSC to actively engage in cooperation and carry out more and more joint projects. Overwhelming majority approved this recommendation with one vote against and one abstained.
- Created a Working team to investigate and recommend a plan for supporting a new or existing school at the village level. SARFRAZ ABBASI, who is already committed to start a new school in his village, will act as a chair. Other members include Shoukat Ali Bhangar, Nazia Junejo, Laghari, Adi Noorunnisa Ghanghro, and Khalid Hashmani.
(Below is a reproduction from Adi Nazia Junejo's posting) It was refreshing to see the passion, zeal and awareness in our community towards our mutual problems. It shows that our Sindhi nation is not as dormant and passive as some people portray it to be. A majority of Sindhis think 'proactively' about the problem solving strategies and almost everyone has a well-defined answer in his mind towards the main problems. These strategies may differ in their routes but are more or less similar in terms of goal orientation. Here I would like you to consider a hypothetical situation: If there are 10 people all starting on foot from a point X and trying to reach point Y... How likely is it and how long would it take them to reach their destination individually using their own 'sense of direction'? As opposed to, if they all sat down together and usedten minds instead of one to make an educated guess pooled their resources and hired a bus?
Although majority of us Sindhis consider ourselves very mature and open-minded; but in the situations like this, we occasionally give in too easily to slightest amount of provocation. At this stage (probably at no stage) the resultant bitterness would be helpful to our cause.
SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2004 - ADABI SESSION (4 PM - 5 PM)
The Adabi (literary) session was presided over by DR. FAHMIDA HUSSAIN, Director of Shah Latif Chair at the Karachi University. A prominent short story writer MUSHTAQ SHORO was the chief guest and AZIZ NAREJO moderated the session. Dr. Fahmida spoke on the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif. Mr. Shoro presented a brief review of the inception, development and progress of short story in Sindh. Ms Noorunnisa Ghanghro spoke on the women writers in Sindhi literature. (Source: Aziz Narejo's posting)
SUNDAY, JULY 4, 2004 - ANNUAL BANQUET AND MUSICAL EVENING (7 PM - 1 AM)
The dinner and music arrangements were truly great. There were in excess of 400 people in the hall making it the most attended event of the evening. A 10-course dinner with "Indo-Pakistan" cuisine was delicious. Most audience enjoyed food while a local band played soft "desi" songs and instruments. The dinner was followed by fabulous musical evenings with talented singers. It was quite touching to find out that Mr. Morai and Ms. SHAZIA KHUSHK, who came in to perform for the sake of their solidarity to North American Sindhis without any monetary incentives. They and some local talent enthralled the audience with beautiful music. Several prominent local personalities addressed the audience This included Mr. Rasool Bakhsh Baloch, the first Consulate General of Pakistan in Houston. He was requested to present awards to the artists Ms. Shazia Khushk and Saeen Ghalam Nabi Morai. Another person was introduced, as a member of the Houston City Council who I am told originally is an Urdu-speaking who originally came from Latifabad area of Hyderabad and proudly claims that he is a Sindhi! Another person was introduced as the current President of the Pakistan Association for Greater Houston (PAGH). Although some were not thrilled to see these previously unannounced speakers, Most participants have any issue with speaking and gave warm welcome to them. The local organizers explained that they invited them to see the strength of our local Sindhi community and super organization of our big event. Often those invitees provide tremendous help when local Sindhis run in to problems such as immigration and other matters of that nature. The chair of the local organizing committee also announced that they had invited representative of the local Sindhi Hindu organizations and welcomed their presence. Several Sindhi school students were recognized for their academic achievement and receive impressive awards. To celebrate 20th anniversary of SANA, a massive cake, fit to feed 400-500 guests, was brought to the hall. The honor of cutting the cake was bestowed on the Dr. Ali Mohammad Ansari, founding members (Altaf Memon and Khalid Hashmani), past President (Mazhar Lakho), and current acting President (Sajjad Siddiqui).
There was almost universal agreement that this was one of the best-organized and as well one of the most memorable SANA conventions. The Houston Sindhis had set a bar that every one is going to be hard pressed to beat. Many thanks to all members of the Local Organizing Committee, particularly Ada Jamil and Adi Fouzia Daudi, and Ada Zafar Agha and Adi Zeb Agha.