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.
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
“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
“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 Mujtaba_g@hotmail.com