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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 20, 2004

Pakistani girl inspires local peace march

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Honolulu doctor is organizing a peace march on Sunday, saying he was inspired by a 2-year-old Pakistani girl whose damaged heart has warmed relations between his native Pakistan and India.

The "Hearts for Peace" march begins at 9 a.m. at Magic Island and will conclude at Kapi'olani Park.

Dr. Inam Rahman is a naturalized citizen and has been in the United States since 1974. Originally from Pakistan, he knows the tense relationship between the two countries.

But in July 2003, leaders of the warring countries put down their swords to help Fatima Noor Sajjad, a 2-year-old girl who was born with a congenital heart defect. Her doctors advised her parents, Nadeem and Tayyaba, to take Fatima Noor to a special cardiac hospital in India.

With relations strained between the countries, there was no rail or air travel, and bus service was suspended after an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee heard of the family's plight and offered to restore transportation links. People on both sides of the border prayed for the girl and rallied to her support.

Last summer, a "friendship bus" brought the little girl to Delhi, where she underwent the successful operation. The goodwill between the two countries has continued and has led to peace talks and a partial reopening of the border.

Rahman said he was inspired by this story and organized the march to support world peace.

"The heart of a little girl brought these two rival countries together," Rahman said. "This is how humans should treat one another. We should be able to help each other without boundaries of religion, culture or ethnicity."

For details on the march, call Sudagar at 221-5745 or Jennifer at 941-4328.

Reach Curtis Lum at 525-8025 or culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.