PAGH Executives Working Hard to Save Pakistan Center

A United Pakistani Community Can Easily Save their Identification in Town


Houston, Texas (Our Correspondent): Various estimates of 20,000 to 80,000 plus float in Houston about the population of Pakistani-Americans living in the greater Houston region. Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) is the only organization of this region, where the executive board has to be elected by the voting of members and then appointment of working committees for various facets. PAGH main aim is to look after the wellbeing of the Pakistani community, help with the interaction of the community with the larger society, promote the rich culture of Pakistan, and be involved in several other facilitations.

As is generally seen that Pakistanis are one of the most energetic, hardworking, better educated, and informed persons in USA, but when they work collectively, several issues come in between those, who profess to be leading the community, which results in apathy and non-involvement of a general Pakistani at grassroots level; and the result is community has not yet achieved the potential that individually it has. Even many City, County, State, and National level politicians are aware of the deep rifts among the Pakistanis, who are running the affairs of various organizations’.

This general apathy is evident from the fact that now for almost one decade, no real voting elections have happened at PAGH, as persons get elected unopposed; and it was further very evident at the recent General Body Meeting of PAGH, which was supposed to happen on September 1, 2013, but due to not meeting the quorum criteria, this meeting was held on September 8. Only about a dozen of persons were present at this meeting, in a meeting where one of the most important decisions about the only Pakistan Center of USA was going to be made. Even the regular members of community newspaper media were absent. It seems that the community members were not properly informed that decisions on Pakistan Center will be made at the meeting; otherwise maybe some more people would have attended.

Indifference towards the affairs of PAGH is such that not all the executive board members and committee chairs were present, while only one board of trustee member of Pakistan Center was present.
Despite of all this triviality, the executive body members present including Tasleem Siddiqui, Asif Waheed, M. Atiq Ahmed, Zaki Mirza, and Asif Hassan; all showed positivism and willingness to work hard to save the foreclosing Pakistan Center. They mentioned that there was a chance to avoid the foreclosing scenario, which is now looming on the horizon, for which PAGH Executives approached a very wealthy person of Texas, for which a former Pakistani-American city councilperson is a witness, but that effort would have eventually resulted in giving up the independence of PAGH into the hands of this donor; so it was not pursued. One member in attendance said he can try to work on this further.

One of the PAGH members said that policy of PAGH executives have been focused on higher end donors, while neglecting the real small contributing persons, who are the blood & backbone of any community: If today just 500 families give five or ten dollars a month supplemented by a few higher donations, imagine how much can be raised just from the community, plus the rent of about $9,000 that comes from the shops of Pakistan Center.

It was informed that Bank of Comerica needs lump-sum reduced $1.10 Million to pay off the balance. Up till now PAGH has been making Interest Only Payments.

Since the front portion of Pakistan Center is platted as condominium, and is being rented, PAGH has to pay taxes on that, and there are about $170,000 in back taxes that needs to be paid.

Present at this meeting, community celebrity Rehan Siddiqui of HumTum Radio offered that he has the capacity to purchase the Pakistan Center Event Hall with the adjacent corridors and offices for $600,000; and is willing to purchase it, provided the front portion is sold. He said he will make this portion after many renovations as an event center to be called Pakistan Center, opening on Dairy Ashford side, and which will always be available for PAGH. This kind gesture of Rehan was highly appreciated in the meeting.

The whole Pakistan Center can be sold for $1.80 to $2.70 million, if done before the foreclosure. Once foreclosed, bank may sell it for $1.2 million or so.

God forbidding: If this Pakistan Center is eventually foreclosed and taken over by the bank to be sold, most likely PAGH (Pakistani Community) will be left with nothing. PAGH Executives are working hard to find ways to salvage the Pakistan Center. Even according to Tasleem Siddiqui, Bank of Comerica has said if someone from Pakistani community buys the Pakistan Center, and later on in the future gives it to the Pakistani Community via PAGH, that is also a possibility.

It will really be a sad day, if God Forbidding Pakistan Center gets foreclosed. The once cherished dream of Pakistanis of 1990s and early 2000s, who envisioned a Pakistan Center on a paid off piece of land, which was later sold to buy on loan this fore-closed HEB Store building, everything will be lost.

Based on discussion in this small group PAGH General Body Meeting, it was decided that as the best possible option, PAGH should try their best to sell the front portion, which would lead to the back portion purchased by Rehan Siddiqui; pay off the bank loan & back taxes, so as to avoid foreclosure. Once all this is done, hopefully the Pakistan Center will remain be intact.

Everyone present there agreed that it is possible once we have a United Pakistani Community, which can easily save this identification of Pakistani-Americans in Houston and USA, the Pakistan Center. However time is of the essence and running away fast.


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