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Many attend fateha for ex-king in US, Canada
by Lalit K. Jha

Pajhwok Afghan News


Hundreds of Afghans attended fateha held this weekend at various places across North America for Baba-i-Millet Muhammad Zahir Shah.

Main prayer services for the former king, who die in Kabul last week, were held in New York, Virginia and Orange County, near Los Angeles in the US, and Toronto and Ottawa in Canada.

Besides, hundreds of Afghans who came to attend the prayer meetings, a large number of dignitaries, ambassadors and political leaders also participated in the fateha khwani gatherings, where the ex-monarch was remembered as one of the greatest rulers Afghanistan ever had.

Acknowledging his contribution to peace and stability in the post-Taliban era, US Ambassador to United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad attended a prayer meeting organised jointly by the Afghan Consulate in New York and its Permanent Mission at the UN at a mosque.

Afghan Ambassador to UN Zahir Tanin and Afghan Consul General Mohammad Sadiq Daudzai were also present at Sundays prayer meeting that lasted more than two hours.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent his special envoy Waazid Khan to the fateha arranged by the Afghan Consulate in Toronto on Saturday. Also a lawmaker, Khan is the prime ministers special advisor on the Middle East and Central Asia. Migrating to Canada from Pakistan in 1974, he is one of the highest-ranking South Asians in the present Canadian government.

Although he remained optimistic and hopeful for his country, the late Baba-e-Millat was concerned about anti-Afghanistan conspiracies and attempts at dividing the nation... always stressing the need to strengthen the bonds of national unity and cooperation," Afghan Ambassador to Canada Omar Samad said in his address at the gathering.

At least three prayer meetings were held in Canada over the weekend. Besides the one in Toronto on Saturday, fateha was also held in Ottawa on Sunday and another memorial meeting took place in Toronto hours later. Envoys of nearly 50 countries visited the Afghan embassy in Toronto to sign the book of condolences.

In Virginia, a large number of Afghan Americans gathered to remember the former king at the Washington Irving Middle School. Organised by the Afghan embassy, the prayer ceremony was attended by some family members of the erstwhile ruler and almost all important Afghan community leaders.

The Afghan Consulate in Los Angeles arranged a similar gathering in remembrance of the former king at a local mosque in Orange County on Saturday. The meeting was attended by community leaders and some important political leaders of the region.

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