Rep. Skelton Meets with Pakistani-American Group to Strengthen Ties
By Shaan Lodhie
Congressman Ike Skelton with a group of prominent Pakistani Americans (above) and with CEO LEDtronics Pervaiz Lodhie (right)
Torrance , CA: On Tuesday, October 5, Congressman Ike Skelton held a meeting in Torrance with a small group of Southern California’s most prominent Pakistani-American profession
nals to discuss various issues impacting US-Pakistan relations.
The discussion was held under the aegis of the Pakistan American Leadership Center, Washington DC (PAL-C).
Rep. Skelton, 78, represents Missouri's Fourth Congressional District in the US House of Representatives. He is also the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
The meeting started off with the group telling Rep. Skelton that many Pakistani-Americans don’t feel like equal citizens in America, especially after the terrorist attack on the New York Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. They believe that regardless of how much they have contributed to the country — in terms of creating jobs, innovating technology, providing healthcare, etc.— in the last five decades, they are still perceived as outsiders by many.
Everyone did agree though that a big reason for this disconcerting situation was that Pakistani Americans have failed to engage in political advocacy for most of the time that they had been in the US. It was only in recent years that the situation has begun to change and they are now establishing a rapport with Washington DC.
The discussants then went on to more directly address the issues of US-Pakistan relations. The group impressed upon the Congressman the fact that Pakistani-Americans are America’s best, unutilized resource for strengthening the friendship between the two nations.
“ Pakistan is an ally,” said Rep. Skelton. He explained that if the Pakistani-Americans want their voices to be heard, they should be seized of the pressing necessity: “Presence and old-fashioned friendship. Knock on the doors. Just come out and say ‘Hi, I want to see how you are.’”
“You have to work at it,” he urged.
The meeting lasted two hours. Pakistani-American Pervaiz Lodhie hosted the luncheon meeting at his manufacturing company, LEDtronics, Inc. Others in attendance were: Shoaib Kothawala; Najeeb Ghauri; Dr. Sattar Abbasi; Faisal Gill; Tony Ashai; Kashif Zubair; Dianne Moss, representing Congresswoman Jane Harman; Patty Skelton, the Congressman’s wife; and Margaret Onken, from the Congressman’s Missouri office.