Rep. Berman Exchanges Views with Pakistani-Americans on Various Issues
By Shaan Lodhie

PAL-C Director Shoaib Kothawala (right) questions Rep. Howard
Berman (left) on US-Pakistan relations

On Sunday, Oct. 10, Congressman Howard Berman attended a meeting in Bradbury with some of Southern California’s Pakistani-American professional community leaders to discuss long-term US-Pakistan relations.

Rep. Berman, 69, represents California’s 28th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives. He is also the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

At the outset the Congressman made it clear that his goal and the goal of the US is to develop relations with Pakistan that are less transactional and more deep-rooted. He explained that being transactional involves using the nations when needed, and then forgetting them otherwise. Rep. Berman said he believes that such an attitude isn’t instrumental in building a healthy relationship.

The group then went on to discuss America’s military presence in the Middle East, along with other issues in the area. The participants spoke about the US entering Iraq without an exit strategy, the unstable state of Afghanistan, the history of corrupt government in Pakistan, and the country’s need to make peace with India.

Rep. Berman said that he wants to strengthen and empower the civilians of Pakistan so that they themselves can better the nation with the help of their government, rather than the US doing everything for them. He said that the process will be very slow, but nonetheless effective in the long run.

Towards the end of the meeting, the group summed up their view that military presence and aid being sent through questionably credible non-government organizations (NGOs) will not save Pakistan, but education and trade will.

Pakistani-Americans Mr. and Mrs. Asif Mahmood held and hosted the meeting at their home. It lasted about two hours, and afterwards they continued their dialogue over lunch.

Some others in attendance were Pervaiz Lodhie, Shoaib Kothawala, Najeeb Ghauri, Dr. Khalid Ahmed, Qaiser Madad, Janice Berman (the Congressman’s wife), and Gene Smith and Esther Azal from Rep. Berman’s staff.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.