Ambassador Patterson Urges Pakistani-American Community to Support Democracy in Pakistan
Torrance , CA: Anne W. Patterson, US envoy to Pakistan, exhorted a select group of Pakistani-Americans in Torrance on March 5 to make sincere strivings to ensure democracy succeeds in Pakistan.
Addressing prominent community members during her first meeting with Pakistani expatriates in Southern California, described by many as a ‘historic’ occasion, the Ambassador impressed upon the gathering the paramount importance of sustaining an effective democratic dispensation in Pakistan. “We have to do everything we possibly can, all of us together, to ensure that we maintain true democracy in Pakistan and give the elected Government the chance to succeed regardless of the challenges the elected Government faces,” she said.
Ambassador Patterson urged the group of Pakistani-Americans to be “more active in the political situation in Pakistan.”
Perceptively, the ambassador claimed that a wholesome change in the economic situation of the country was possible if overseas Pakistanis were to substantially invest in the country.
The ambassador was visibly happy to meet the highly educated, successful, and affluent members of the Pakistani-American community and lauded their contributions in various fields in the United States.
Two prominent community members – Mr. Pervaiz Lodhie and Mr Shoaib Kothawala – were instrumental in arranging the visit of Ambassador Patterson to Los Angeles.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Lodhie welcomed the Ambassador and thanked her for meeting with the vibrant Southern California Pakistani-American community. Mr. Lodhie also urged the Ambassador to point out where Pakistan had gone wrong and what role the Pakistani Americans could play to improve the life of ordinary Pakistanis.
Mr. Shoaib Kothawala informed the Ambassador that the textile sector was the backbone of Pakistan’s industry and could receive a meaningful boost if Pakistani products could be allowed into US markets at zero percent tariff. He commented that Pakistan had suffered great collateral damage from the War on Terror and no one deserved more trade concessions than Pakistan. He pointed out that if the tariffs were withdrawn there would be no threat to the US textile industry as most of US textile consisted of value-added products that were not made in Pakistan. He emphasized that by removing tariff, the US would play a catalytic role in creating millions of jobs in Pakistan and simultaneously improving its balance of payment situation.
Speaking next, Mr. Bob Din commented, “We live here in this country. We have earned our money over here. So for us to give back in any way is good in both ways. We’re doing it here in the US and we want to do it in Pakistan as well. You need to give us access to people over here. Whether it’s the State Department, whether it’s US aid, and let the business community over here step up. We’re not talking. We will come with our dollars also. Match them, double them…”
Mr. Pervaiz Lodhie expressed his concern over how little had so far been done by way of political advocacy by the community. “We are almost zero compared to what we should have been, having being in the US for some 50 years.” There is a pressing need to be heard in Washington, DC, through people like Congresswoman Jane Harman, Congressman Adam Schiff, and Congressman Howard Berman. Everybody in the community thought we could never have a talk with Congressman Howard Berman. I’m trying to get all the leadership in Southern California to understand that it is okay to have personal groups and personal interests, but once in a while we have to also think collectively, and start financing these advocacy efforts that reach Washington, DC.” Mr. Lodhie who owns a large LED manufacturing company presented a slide show about the history and accomplishments of his company.
The group that met the ambassador included Pakistani-American community leaders from various fields including hi-tech, software, textiles, electronics, real estate, media, banking, aviation, education and medicine.
Later that evening Ambassador Anne Patterson attended a gala dinner hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Kothawala in her honor at their beautiful mansion in Beverly Hills. Along with a very select group of Pakistani-Americans, the dinner was also attended by Congresswoman Jane Harman and Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy D. Baca.