By Ilyas Choudry, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
The veteran leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Group) from Houston, Mohammad Amin (Minni Bhai) organized a dinner at a local restaurant in the honor of Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan, Advocate of Punjab High Court and Member of Punjab Provincial Assembly (MPA).
Present on the occasion were successful community social worker and entrepreneur Faiyaz Merchant, the honorary investment advisor to the government of Pakistan, Faisal Ameen, Assistant Surgeon Dr. Mubashir Chaudhry, Colonel (Retd.) Qamar-ul-Haq, Dr. Wajid Khan and many others.
Minni Bhai explained that he is making plans to travel to London in order to accompany Former Pakistani PM Mian Nawaz Sharif as he endeavors to return home from exile on September 10, 2007.
Minni Bhai asked for prayers for the successful return of Mr. Sharif and for the return of stable democracy in Pakistan.
Faiyyaz Merchant advised that future democracy in Pakistan needs the education of the many people, and that whoever wins the next election, the priority of the government should be to increase the budget of education by at least three times.
Dr. Mubashir Chaudhry emphasized that the people of Pakistan will make their decisions and we from overseas can assist them in making good democratic choices as well as by contributing resources in the fields of health and education: However, at the same time being in the USA, we need to become more active in the American political arena and create the rightful image of Pakistan and PML (N).
Answering the several questions posed by the media, Rana Mashhood spoke about Javed Hashmi, who stayed in Pakistan in jail, and Nawaz Sharif, who escaped into exile.
It can not be said, he explained, that Nawaz Sharif ran away from Pakistan due to fear of death, but it was through a deal made by foreign friends of the Sharif Family and the government of Pakistan–and Sharif only learnt about it at the very last moment. With no law-and-order in the country, it was the best option to leave rather than continue to face kangaroo courts which would also have become another bad mark on the face of the judicial system.
Now that, due to the immense efforts of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the community of lawyers, and the general public of Pakistan and the opposition political parties, there are clear signs the law-and-order situation has gotten better than before. As such, it is time for Nawaz Sharif to return home–not to get into power but to bring Pakistan back to the norms of civil society, where there is an elected government of the people and not the elected government of just one institution of Pakistan.
Sharif was asked where all the funds had gone that had been contributed by many overseas Pakistanis to pay-off Pakistani debt–Sharif made the plea: MPA Rana Mashhood said that Mr. Ishaq Dar, Minister of Finance of that time, recently on a television talk-show, identified a file, which has all the records of those transactions and when the Supreme Court of Pakistan will ask for this accountability, all the information will be duly submitted.
MPA Rana Mashhood said that the law-&-order situation in Pakistan can be further enhanced by having economic policies of development and establishment of an atmosphere by the government so that employment opportunities will be created. Unemployment and poverty are some of the underlying reasons behind lawlessness in any society and present Government has miserably failed in this regards.
MPA Rana Mashhood said that journalism is very independent in Pakistan and said this is a most positive development. This is not due to Musharraf, he said–it is because of the general atmosphere of getting better awareness, which has happened worldwide due to modern electronic and internet media. If the Musharraf government was really sincere about the independence of journalists, many of the media outlets would have not been recently attacked. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has said the Press and Publication Regulatory Authority (PAMRA) of the government of Pakistan is a clear design to take away from the press the little freedom that it has at present.
MPA Rana Mashhood said the Pakistan Armed Forces used to be a most respectable institution, but that the dictatorship of General Musharraf has left this institute with little respect. There is a need for the army to go back to its barracks, improve their skills where they are most needed in the defense of the country, and restore their lost respect. All the means need to be adopted to avoid the military taking up power. Four complete cycles of Fair Elections with PMs finishing their terms will make a change in the overall system of the society–in all facets of life.
For more information on PML (N) activities in Houston and USA, contact Minni Bhai at 1-281-341-1067.
Mayorâ€™s Estate Cited In Property Tax Protest
By Jason Whitely
FEMA has designated areas called floodways, where water will flow when it spills outside a bayouâ€™s banks. Houston has outlawed new construction in these areas. So if you canâ€™t build on the land, why would its property value increase? Digging drainage is part of life along the bayou Dave Wilson has seen his place flood too often.
â€œThe last one was Allison,â€ Wilson said. â€œIt got about two-and-a-half feet in there. In the houseâ€: That was the bad one. Water rose twice before too.
FEMA just declared Wilsonâ€™s place in the floodway, but when the Harris County Appraisal District wanted to raise his taxes, Wilson protested. How he did it is what caught our attention.
Wilson used Houston Mayor Bill Whiteâ€™s estate, located deep inside this gated Galleria community as an example. Last year, Harris County valued the mayorâ€™s land at more than $2.2 million. This year it slashed Mayor Whiteâ€™s property to $1.2 million; itâ€™s location in the floodplain was one of the reasons.
â€œYou know if the mayor is going to get a 32-percent reduction, then everybody thatâ€™s in the floodplain should get one also,â€ Wilson said. â€œI donâ€™t begrudge the mayor for getting that reduction, because we all pay too much in property taxes. We all should have it.â€
Over the last two years a record number of property owners have protested their values in Harris County. Exactly how many of those are related to flooding is uncertain. As for the mayor, his office said he didnâ€™t ask for a reduction, the county just gave it to him.
Wilson didnâ€™t get the mayorâ€™s 32-percent discount. Instead he got 5 percent. â€œFive percent is all? Thatâ€™s great,â€ he said. â€œUsually I get it raised every year 10 percent to 20 percent. I felt like I was a winner.â€
Wilson estimates heâ€™ll now save $1,200 a year in property taxes. And since FEMA just recently put hundreds of additional lots in the floodway, Wilson believes those owners have a case to lower their taxes at least as much or perhaps more.