Pakistan has achieved national consensus for democracy and constitutionalism. –Husain Haqqani
By Rafique Patel and TMO Staff
The ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Husain Haqqani, spoke in Cleveland Ohio this past weekend to a select group of Americans.
Ambassador Haqqani emphasized that respect for an official office is a vital part of living in any country–that respect for an office is sometimes separate from distaste or feelings of disrespect towards a particular person.
Another major point that the ambassador made was that a vital part of civic life is respect for pluralism. He specifically mentioned Sunnis, Shiâ€™a, Ahmadis, Buddhists, and Hindus as groups of people whose existence must be respected as those groups must live together in some degree of harmony, saying that a Hindu and an Ahmadi were represented even in the very first cabinet after partition–and he argued that the present government is attempting to move the country back towards that tradition of tolerance.
He said that Pakistan is fighting against terrorism, saying â€œWhat I can say is that the government that was elected in February 2008 by the people of Pakistan is a government that is absolutely committed to fighting terrorism as a problem that Pakistan must face for its own sake.â€
A third major point that the ambassador made was in essence a plea for investment. He argued that people in Pakistan must seize the business opportunities that are there. For example, despite the widespread excitement about the existence of mineral deposits in Pakistan–there must be a business and entrepreneurial component to the process of extracting those minterals and making them a part of the economy of Pakistan. Unless people invest in mines and minerals, and unless the people work, then the existence of mineral deposits will not help the country.
Commenting on the flood relief, he said that when 20 million people are in trouble the first priority is saving lives, making sure that there are no waterborne diseases, no epidemics, and making sure that immunization of children remains on track and pre grant and lactating mothers in relief camps get the support they need and the people are enabled to return to their farms and homes,â€ He said the government and aid work had saved lives, and that fewer people died due to the Pakistan governmentâ€™s efforts of evacuation. The ambassador appreciated the fact that the U.S. government has allocated $493 million towards flood relief recovery and is in the process of directing $500 million from Kerry-Lugar funds, approved by Congress last year. But, he underlined, Pakistani flood victims would still need a lot of support from individual donors and private charitable giving in the United States. There is a long way to go and lot of work to do.
He expressed regret over public comments by some who had expressed doubts in the flow of aid relief all the way to people in need who had suffered from the floods–he argued that the consequences of such statements are limited amounts of money, meaning he cannot collect the 10 or 12 billion dollars or whatever amount the government may need. may be required but trying to undermine the capability of the government to do so.
The ambassador did not deny that there is corruption, but he emphasized the severe consequences of throttling the flow of money to a nation staggering under the weight of the flood relief. Responding to a question, he suggested that for the Pakistani community to create unity amongst their rank and file, they must get engage themelves with American society and support people of Pakistan. He said that Pakistani community should professionalize its efforts to lobby in favor of Pakistan.
This meeting with the ambassador was organized by Dr. Masroor Ahmed, who is well known in the Cleveland community–he is a social activist and philanthropist, very active on behalf of the Pakistan League of America and other organizations.
The American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin (AFMI) was recognized by Dr. Ahmed and Ambassador Haqqani, who thanked Dr. AS Nakadar and Dr. Iqbal Ahmed of AFMI for their contributions in Pakistan, especially for their relief work in the aftermath of the recent floods.
Dr. Nakadar, in his brief comments at the meeting, thanked and gave his appreciation to the eventâ€™s organizers for their invitation, and presented Ambassador Haqqani with the souvenir from the recently held 20th Annual AFMI convention in Troy, Michigan.