- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2005

Pakistani action

The head of the Pakistani Embassy went to work as soon as he learned of Saturday’s killer earthquake, assembling a rapid response team in Washington and contacting leaders of the Pakistani-American community across the United States to coordinate relief efforts.

Mohammad Sadiq, the charge d’affaires, said yesterday that the Pakistani-American organizations held fundraisers that drew pledges of tens of thousands of dollars, while consular offices handled hundreds of applications from individuals seeking to fly to Pakistan as soon as possible.

“The embassy has been open around the clock to process visas,” he said.

Mr. Sadiq said the earthquake that killed more than 20,000 people and left 2.5 million homeless had touched nearly everyone in his country. His own family was spared, but he knows many of the victims. Some members of his own embassy staff lost relatives in the disaster.

“I’m from that area,” he said of the Himalayan region where the earthquake struck. “My family is safe, but in a way it was a personal tragedy because some on my staff lost family members.”

Mr. Sadiq on Sunday met with President Bush, who offered $50 million in immediate aid.

“President Bush was very supportive. He was genuinely touched by this,” Mr. Sadiq said.

He appealed to Americans to send cash donations instead of goods such as blankets or tents that can be purchased cheaper in Pakistan. Transportation of those donations adds to the expense, he said.

Checks can be sent to the President’s Relief Fund and made payable to “Reach International.” Mr. Sadiq said the donations should be sent to the Head of Chancery, Embassy of Pakistan, 3517 International Court, Washington DC, 20008.

Donations can also be made to the Consulate General of Pakistan in Los Angeles by sending a check to account number 00990-41526 at the Bank of America in California. Wire transfers require the routing number, ABA#121-000-358. The swift code is BOFAUS6S.

Mr. Sadiq said a condolences book will remain open at the embassy from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Kuwaiti release seen

The Kuwaiti ambassador expects the United States to release several Kuwaiti citizens held among terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“The U.S. administration will hand over five of the Kuwaiti detainees at the Guantanamo camp to the Kuwaiti government soon,” Ambassador Sheikh Salem Abdullah al-Jaber al-Sabah told the Kuwaiti state news agency, KUNA, over the weekend.

The ambassador said the five prisoners will be tried in Kuwait. He did not give further details, except to say that U.S. and Kuwaiti authorities are discussing the “mechanism” for the handover of the inmates.

Anger in Yemen

The U.S. ambassador sparked an angered reaction from the government of Yemen when he voiced his concerns about the state of democracy in country that once harbored al Qaeda terrorists.

Ambassador Thomas Krajeski last week told the Al Ayyam newspaper that “there is concern in Washington that, instead of pressing ahead on the clear path to more democracy, progress has stopped in Yemen.”

A government spokesman said Yemen was “astonished” by the remarks, according to the official Saba news agency.

“Yemen is an independent democratic country, and democracy in Yemen is a matter that concerns the Yemeni people alone,” the spokesman said.

Mr. Krajeski also noted that Yemen has been a reliable partner in the war on terrorism since shutting down the al Qaeda operation after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

The dispute comes as President Ali Abdullah Saleh is planning a trip to Washington next month.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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