Level of Engagement between Pakistani Americans and US to Grow
A Pakistan Link Report

Newport Beach, CA: The ‘level of engagement between the United States and Pakistani Americans is going to accelerate this year’ given the critical role the Pakistani community is playing in strengthening Pakistan-US relations. This was stated by Mr. Daniel W. Sutherland, Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the US Department of Homeland Security, in an exclusive interview with Pakistan Link.

Suave and soft-spoken, Mr. Sutherland addressed a number of sensitive issues impacting the Pakistani Americans with clarity and uninhibited candor. There is an ’awareness of the role of Pakistanis in the US’ today and it is gratifying that they too are seized of it and are  playing their due role.

Appointed to his important post by President Bush on April 16, 2003, Mr. Sutherland and his office provide advice on issues such as the use of race or ethnicity in law enforcement and intelligence activities and building strategic partnerships between the homeland security effort and American Arab and Muslim communities. Mr. Sutherland’s 2005 speech on the need for the government to engage with Muslim-Americans in the war on terror has been printed in Vital Speeches of the Day, a prestigious publication. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Louisville, Mr. Sutherland provides legal and policy advice to the Secretary and the senior leadership of the Department on a full range of issues at the intersection of homeland security and civil rights and civil liberties.

Mr. Sutherland was happy that the Pakistani community has successfully  made a ‘strong contribution in the country’ in the role of doctors, IT experts, entrepreneurs and scholars. They make up an ‘influential’ group as evidenced by the presence of six Congressmen in a recent Houston gathering where the Pakistanis turned up in appreciable numbers. They are sure to do better if they chart out a different career course for the young people and advise them to ‘consider government service as their career.’ Pakistanis should serve in the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Army, and such areas as border protection, immigration, etc. ‘They should pursue degrees that lead them to these US government departments,’ Mr Sutherland observed.

He appeared more than sanguine in suggesting that Pakistani Americans ‘have a great future’ in the United States. ‘They have made a contribution and will make more in future with the induction of more Pakistanis in government departments.’

Asked how problems of racial profiling and prejudice which Pakistani Americans are facing today compare with problems other ethnic groups have faced in America earlier, Mr. Sutherland replied that it was difficult to make such a comparison. But his answer bred a great deal of optimism and hope. ‘We face many challenges but these challenges are rewarding in the sense that they generate opportunities.’

He explained that the US Department of Homeland Security is especially charged to deal with cases of discrimination and prejudice. ‘The government agencies are committed to deal with such cases’ and complaints by aggrieved individuals are duly investigated and firmly dealt with. ‘Any discrimination should be reported. We have been able to resolve them through investigation,’ Mr. Sutherland assured.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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