News and Views from New
By Syed S Hussain
much talked about mild winter finally gave way to the much
talked about record snowfall. With nearly 27 inches of snow
all sorts of records were being re-written. The inhabitants
of the Big Apple were once again seen doing what they normally
do in winter - dig.
For me it is a bit of a damper other than the digging part.
As the movement is restricted the news and views of the South
Asian community, which I normally solicit by moving around,
is in short supply. Nonetheless, I met enough people to have
the pulse of the important issues they are talking about.
Eavesdropping: The unfolding saga of National Surveillance
Program continues to remain an important topic of discussion
amongst the people who normally discuss such things. Somehow
everybody feels slightly anxious about this program.
The main point of anxiety appears to be the very wide sweep
of this program. For ordinary people the very fact that they
could be under surveillance, even of benign nature, is rather
unsettling. As the hearing and the proceedings are still unfolding
everybody is hoping that the program would be as restrictive
as the officials are claiming it to be.
Blasphemous Cartoons: The fallouts from the protests and counter-protests
of the blasphemous cartoons continue to be a subject of discussion.
Surprisingly, the views on this matter are quite divergent.
Almost all agree that the cartoons were at the very least
in bad taste. Many even consider them a deliberate provocation.
But most want the subject to be put on the backburner now.
This sentiment appears to stem from two counts. First, the
feeling that this subject will go nowhere, with each side
sticking to its respective position. The other and probably
more important reasoning is that this subject has all the
hallmarks of escalating into something more drastic. Already
there is talk of a cultural war taking place between two different
civilizations. This kind of position, if taken too far by
either side, can only spell more damage to an already sensitive
Zahid Ali Syed
Pakistani American running for
New York State Assembly: There is some news to cheer about.
A Pakistani American, Mr. Zahid Ali Syed, is running for New
York State Assembly and is proving the dictum that hard work
can open up all sorts of opportunities in America. The Nassau
County Democratic Party and the Working Families Party have
nominated Mr. Zahid to this seat
In the special election being held on February 28, 2006 he
would be representing District 17 of New York, which comprises
areas like East Meadow, Merrick, North Bellmore, Garden City,
New Hyde Park, Floral Park and Uniondale, Long Island, New
York. A good number of South Asians reside in these areas.
During the last 15 years Mr. Zahid has been actively involved
in politics and labor union activities. He holds many offices.
He is Labor Union leader of RWDSU Local 338. He serves as
Commissioner in the Nassau County Human Rights Commission.
He is also President of South Asian American Political Action
Committee. He brings with him a rich combination of experience
and hard work. The community is eagerly looking forward to
his success in the election.
Iran’s Nuclear Program: The Iran situation did not come
as a surprise to most people. The rhetoric on all sides had
clear manifestations of reaching this stage. But now that
the situation is where it is genuine concerns are setting
Almost everybody feels that these situations should have been
avoided. The present world situation has enough of other problems
than to add some more and such a serious one at that. The
important question now is: how much worse could the situation
get? What if Iran decides, as it appears presently, to up
the ante and not back down? Are we looking at another Iraq-like
Pakistan: Yet another hot button issue is the present situation
in Pakistan, especially in the sensitive province of Baluchistan.
The news coming from there is definitely not encouraging and
it adds to the anxiety of the people here. As it is the situation
in the North West Frontier Province is worrisome enough with
the news of increased militant activities in tribal areas.
And now disturbances in Baluchistan!
Although people generally know that the Baluchistan problem
is not entirely a new one but that it’s flaring up at
this stage is quite shocking for them. From whatever news
is trickling down there appears to be substantial unrest resulting
in casualties. Everybody is hoping for early restoration of
peace and that the government will take all actions to defuse
the situation. Pakistan certainly does not need a new set