Babar Hashmi Takes over as Consul General in New York
By Asma Shakeel
In recent years, a new breed of Pakistani diplomats has made its mark in the US. Members of this group have been zestful and well-meaning individuals who have been free from the affectations and airy-fairy traits associated with diplomats in yesteryear. The Consul Generals in New York lately have belonged to this category. These enterprising individuals have appeared manifestly inclined to help the Pakistani-American community. They have figured prominently in community events and actively supported many a laudable national and community cause.
The newly posted Consul General in New York, Babar Hashmi, is one such enterprising individual. He is a young, well-educated and an extremely motivated diplomat. He invited Pakistan Link to tea recently to discuss critical community-related issues to emphasize the role that overseas Pakistanis can play in improving the image of Pakistan and the lot of Pakistanis at home and abroad.
Consul General Babar Hashmi obtained his Master's degree from the Punjab University in Pakistan and a degree in diplomacy in the United States. He has been in service for over twenty-three years during which he has held important assignments in Switzerland, Germany, Africa, Rome, Italy and now, the United States of America.
A career diplomat, Mr. Hashmi has also served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he worked as Director General, Director, and Desk Officer.
During the brief period that Mr. Hashmi has been associated with the Pakistan Consulate in New York the staff efficiency has visibly improved. Tasks are now carried out more systematically and professionally. During the course of the interview, Mr. Hashmi repeatedly mentioned that he wanted the staff to work with minimum interruption so that they can concentrate on their respective tasks and serve the community in the most effective way. He has urged his staff members to be active and fully responsive when it comes to attending any minor or major complaints made by community members.
He wants his staff to be active and efficient at all times. If a staff member is preoccupied at a particular time with an assignment, Mr. Hashmi himself steps in and personally attends to the matter.
Replying to a question, Mr. Hashmi explained his strategy to fulfill his responsibilities as Consul General. He said, "In the United States of America, there is a large number of well-educated, well-settled and financially strong Pakistani community members who are capable of making a significant change while representing Pakistan, or by making an investment in Pakistan and revealing their identity as respectable and intelligent Pakistanis even while living away from their homeland." Mr. Hashmi also pointed out the fine examples of vibrant local and global organizations spread across the length and breadth of the United States such as PANA, APPNA, and OPEN that have rendered laudable services for the betterment of Pakistanis. He went on to explain that he would endeavor to forge closer links between Pakistanis living at home and abroad.
Mr. Hashmi expressed his concern for the lack of participation of overseas Pakistanis in local politics. He strongly feels that after 9/11 the world has changed drastically and Pakistanis should now be taking a more active part in mainstream politics in America. Such an involvement will give the community a powerful voice in the US that could be heard globally and produce wholesome results.
Answering a question about overseas Pakistanis’ right to vote in the next elections, Mr. Hashmi informed that the issue had been already addressed. He revealed that in this regard a poll was going on around the world on a website. Pakistanis are now able to express their views on their right to vote online by filling out forms. These forms are also available at the consulates and Pakistanis can hand them in if they so desire.
Mr. Hashmi also felt that overseas Pakistanis should invest in Pakistan. He claimed that the government should have the responsibility to handle overseas Pakistani investments in land because majority of Pakistanis who intend to invest, shy away because they are not sure if they were dealing with the right company, the right piece of land, and such related issues. He thought that this issue should be addressed by the Pakistani community itself and once this is done all their concerns and ideas will be directed to the appropriate quarters best suited to deal with them.
Toward the end of the interview, Mr. Hashmi shared his message for the Pakistani community with Pakistan Link. He observed: "If every Pakistani was to take part in census, in the future, Pakistanis will be much stronger in quantity in the United States of America and their voice will significantly be raised to the government, consequently establishing their influential and dominant individuality." He proposed that "the Pakistanis should not be bashful when it comes to taking part in political issues related to their local communities. They must participate in local gatherings and in establishing unity and harmony among members of the community. When Pakistan took a step against terrorism and stood beside the United States, it faced many challenges for helping other people and unfortunately lost thirty-thousand innocent people in the process. By addressing these misconceptions in the local media, at local gatherings and within social groups, Pakistanis will be able to create a loud voice for themselves. Our joint effort can make a huge difference and to achieve this, every Pakistani must take the initiative!"