Pak-American Groups Join Minto in Spotlighting Poverty, Illiteracy
By Saleem Akhtar

Welcoming prominent thinker and constitutionalist Abid Hassan Minto in their midst, eight independent Pakistani-American organizations from all over the United States have expressed their hope that Mr. Minto’s presence will help refocus attention on “everyday problems of the common person in Pakistan”.

“Since elite Pak-American organizations have become totally beholden to the Pakistani establishment, we need to find a way to reset the agenda,” says Sajjad Burki, President of the Pakistani American Council of Texas (PACT).

Other community leaders agree.

“Pakistani-Americans have become a directionless community”, Dr. Shafi Bezar, President of Pakistan League of America (PLA) said. “We must use this occasion to create a sense of direction. Mr. Minto’s presence can be catalyst for identifying achievable goals to reduce poverty and illiteracy in Pakistan ”.

Mr. Munir Chaudhry, President of Chicago-based Indus Society of America (ISA), said he has high hopes from this joint initiative. “I am excited and hopeful because Minto’s agenda for social reform happens to be my own agenda”, he said. “I have written extensively about this issue”.

“I want to help wherever and however I can”, said Mr. Syed Bashart Ali, President of the Pakistan Community Association of New Orleans (PCANO). “Let’s join hands and do something for the poverty-crushed common person in Pakistan”.

The following Pakistani-American organizations have come together to strive for a new, activist, agenda for the Pakistani-American community: Coalition of Pakistani Organizations of Chicago (Mr. Raja Yaqub); Indus Society of America (Mr. Munir Chaudhry); Pakistan American Democratic Forum (Dr. Agha Saeed); Pakistani American Council of Texas (Mr. Sajjad Burki); Pakistan Association of Riverside (Mohammad Ashraf); Pakistan Community Association of New Orleans (Syed Basharat Ali); Pakistan League of America (Dr. Shafi Bezar); Strategic Research Foundation (Mr. Abid Malik).

Their joint statement in part reads:

“Cognizant of the fact that you have spent fifty years, half a century, leading nationwide movements for poverty alleviation, rule of law, due process and equal justice in Pakistan, we salute you for your courage of conviction and persistence. We applaud you for your continued struggle for human rights, women’s rights, minority rights and rights of the working classes. We highly appreciate your lifelong struggle against militarism, feudalism, nepotism and imperialism.”

“We are also aware that you have worked with Mr. Nelson Mandela in the International Lawyers’ Association to help create respect for international law by all countries, big and small, rich and poor. You continue to play a pivotal role in creating awareness that international institutions like the United Nations need to be democratized.”

“Your current visit to the United States gives all of us an opportunity to spotlight issues of poverty, inflation, unemployment, corruption, nepotism, military domination, social oppression and environmental degradation in Pakistan. We would like to join you in a conference call to discuss creative ways of involving Pakistani-Americans in playing their role to help alleviate social, political and economic ills of Pakistan.”

At present more than 85 million Pakistanis are uneducated; that should give some sense of the magnitude of the problem.

Mr. Minto is scheduled to lead a roundtable discussion on poverty and democracy organized by the Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF) in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday, July 12.

For more information call (510) 252-9858 or write to



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.