Cricket Star Headlines Pakistan Aid Effort - Islamic Relief USA

By Michael Stetz

San Diego Union-Tribune

February 22, 2008

SAN DIEGO – More than 500 people are expected to turn out tonight for a fundraiser to aid relief in Pakistan, a nation that has been hard hit recently by political unrest and natural catastrophes.

The star attraction of the event, sponsored by Islamic Relief, is renowned cricket player Shahid Afridi.

In New Jersey this month, about 800 people showed up for a similar fundraiser, many of them because of Afridi, 27, a member of the Pakistan national team.

They also turn out to help Pakistan. Last year, a cyclone hit the southern part of the nation, killing 10. In 2005, an earthquake in the Kashmir region killed about 87,000.

Politically, the nation, a key ally of the United States, has seen much upheaval, the most recent being the December assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and her party’s strong showing in this week’s parliamentary elections.

The political uncertainty has not affected the fundraising effort nor the projects the money funds, said Mostafa Mahboob, a spokesman for Islamic Relief. The organization is politically neutral, Mahboob said.

San Diego is one of six cities included in the fundraising drive because similar efforts in the past here have proven successful, he said.

“San Diego is one of the constant and regular supporters of our work,” Mahboob said.

Islamic Relief, which helps in a wide range of relief projects, including those in the United States, hopes to raise $1 million in this drive.

Tonight’s event, “Building for the Future,” will begin at 7 at the Four Points by Sheraton San Diego, 8110 Aero Drive, Kearny Mesa.

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