Pakistani Americans Urge Obama to Pursue ‘Partnership of Peace’
From left: Dr Agha Saeed, Dr Fawzia Afzal Khan, Dr Muahmmad Ashraf Toor and Saghir Tahir
Washington, DC: A group of Pakistani-American organizations have urged US President Barack Obama to pursue a “partnership of peace” with Pakistan that should begin with respect for “statehood and sovereignty” of its longtime South Asian ally.
Speaking ahead of a lobbying campaign Tuesday by Indian-American bodies that seek to condition US assistance for Pakistan to Islamabad’s anti-terror cooperation with New Delhi, the Pakistan-American National Alliance appealed to both the Obama Administration and Congress to shun the notion of “coercive diplomacy” in dealing with Pakistan.
Representing PANA, Dr Agha Saeed, founder of the alliance, Saghir Tahir, Member of New Hampshire State Assembly, Dr Fawzia Afzal Khan, an eminent professor of English Literature and Dr Muahmmad Ashraf Toor, advocated that Washington’s policies towards Pakistan must be geared toward serving the interests of both nations.
On continued drone attacks against suspected militant targets on the Pakistani territory, they said such actions in no way serve the long-term interests of the United States, rather they help fuel fanaticism as extremist elements exploit these kinds of aggressive actions to their advantage.
Secondly, they argued, the use of military actions is very limited in its objectives while the problem of violent extremism is a complex issue and requires a multi-faceted approach. Therefore, unilateral actions into tribal areas should be halted immediately and the democratic Pakistani government be allowed full opportunity to address the complex problems of extremism and militancy, they stressed at a Press Conference at the National Press Club.
They called upon the Barack Obama administration to adopt a comprehensive approach that may address the root-causes of extremist violence through economic development, educational advancement and regional peace and stability initiatives. “The PANA leadership contends that this anti-Pakistan campaign by the Indian Task Force will revive old hostilities, re-polarize Indian and Pakistani communities, jeopardize US interests, undermine prospects for peace in South Asia and weaken the centrist force while strengthening the extremists.” The alliance will write letters to senior Obama Administration officials, interact with lawmakers on the Capitol Hill and seek audience with Secretary of State to suggest ways for advancing US-Pakistan relations.
In a news release, PANA said Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and appreciated Islamabad’s cooperative efforts in investigating the Mumbai attacks despite Indian war drum beating.
As part of its peace initiative suggestion for South Asia, PANA asked Washington to support Pakistan’s economic development, stop India from assisting terrorist organizations working against Pakistan, and appoint a special mediator to resolve the lingering Jammu and Kashmir conflict.
According to Congressional Quarterly, a Capitol Hill newspaper, the coalition of Indian-American groups will urge lawmakers to make US military aid to Pakistan conditional on cooperation with investigations of November’s terrorist attack in Mumbai.
In addition to the above report by AAP, PANA’s media coordinator Muhammad Salim Akhtar, has issued a media advisory detailing follow-up activities which include a meeting at the Capital Hill on Friday, Feb 6 where Aitzaz Ahsen will deliver the keynote address; a meeting with the State Department officials, and a Pakistani-American day at Capital Hill on Feb 18.
Those seeking to join these activities should contact Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Toor @ 815.353.5039.