Pak-Americans Warn against "Micromanaging" Pakistan , Urge Dialogue and Respect
By Hazem Kira and and Mahrukh Hasan
Washington , DC: A coalition of Pakistan American groups came to Capitol Hill on Monday to urge lawmakers to refrain from "micromanaging" Pakistan, to respect the nation's "sovereignty" and " territorial integrity", and to pursue a policy that enables partnership and peace between the two South Asian nations rather than "re-polarization."
Talking to congressional staffers in the Rayburn Office Building of the US Congress, the coalition partners, representing member organizations in the Pakistan American National Alliance (PANA), also stressed non-intrusive support for Pakistan's democratic principles without partisan preferences for any one political party.
This "follow-up" meeting was held a month after the same leaders held a press conference in the capitol to preempt efforts by an Indian American group, the Indian Task Force, which was planning to ask lawmakers to sanction Pakistan and "demand" that the US "confront" it.
PANA is urging the Congress to pass Kerry-Lugar Bill designed to provide ten-year economic aid to Pakistan without trying to micromanage Pakistan’s internal affairs, which Pakistanis perceive as a violation of their sovereignty.
"The fate of Pakistan/A fghanistan is inextricably linked to global security," said the founder of PANA, Dr. Agha Saeed, at the meeting. "Let's be careful not to allow what happened in Mumbai slip us back into the politics of fear and re-polarization. This will only serve to undermine long-term prospects for peace, empower non-state actors, and strengthen extremists on both sides."
These efforts come at a time when the new administration is still formulating its South Asia policy.
According to a recent article in Congressional Quarterly, a Capitol Hill newspaper, Dr. Saeed cautioned his "Indian friends" to be "wary of their wishes, as they may come true ... the diplomatic cornering of Pakistan by way of sanctions, by way of coercive diplomacy ... is going to [create] a tremendous reaction in Pakistan .... [And] ultimately hurt US interest in terms of fighting the war on terror."
In attendance at the Congressional meeting was a leading member of the Pakistani Parliament, the vice-president of the second largest party in Pakistan, the Muslim League, Makdoom Javed Hashmi, who is currently touring the United States.
On the subject of surgical strikes by the US within Pakistani territory, Mr Hashmi said, "Drones cannot tell the difference between civilians and culprits ... the strategy of dialogue and respect is favorable to clumsy military operations that only strengthen the ideology of extremists."
NON-INTRUSIVE SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRACY, JUDICIARY: Congressional members speaking before and during the meeting are said to be considering at least three immediate actions to be followed by other long-term policies. The three include: A Non-Intrusive Resolution by the House Judiciary Committee member vowing non-interference in Pakistan's internal affairs yet expressing support for the universal principles of rule of law, and independence of the judiciary; a tri-caucus meeting of Indian and Pakistani Americans to engage in meaningful dialogue, and a dear colleague letter to highlight these issues.
The same coalition of Pakistani-Americans is planning to follow-up with similar meetings with the State Department and the Obama administration in the coming days and weeks before a scheduled national march in Pakistan on March 12.
The march is being led by major unionists and legal fraternities who plan to march throughout Pakistan in support of the reinstatement of the Supreme Court judges removed by Musharraf, and have yet to be reinstated by the current leadership, even after promises to do so.
"As citizens it is our job to help our government win the hearts and minds, but we cannot win hearts and minds unless we support real democratic reforms, respect the sovereignty of each nation, refrain from partisanship, and pursue a partnership for peace-irrespective of national, religious, or ethnic identities," says Dr. Saeed.