Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Meets Community in California
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Newark, CA: Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry held an informal meeting with the Pakistani-American community in Northern California. The meeting, held on January 28 at the Mehran Restaurant in Newark, was attended by around 150 people.
Addressing the audience, Aizaz Chaudhry said: Pakistan needs your help in its economic development and investment is the best way to maintain links with your native country.
Aizaz Chaudhry is a career diplomat and referred to his postings in Qatar and the Netherlands.
He said overseas Pakistanis always help in building the national image but some events create problems for our community. In that respect he referred to the San Bernardino, CA terrorist attack on December 2nd when Syed Rizwan Farook, an American of Pakistani origin, killed 14 people and wounded 21 at a meeting of public health officials. However, Chaudhry said that the establishment in Washington understood that this was an individual act and the whole community should not be blamed for it.
The Foreign Secretary said that sometimes the Muslim community in the West faces a hostile situation. He mentioned the release of anti-Islam movie "Fitna" in 2008 by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. At that time he was ambassador of Pakistan in Netherlands. The short anti-Islam movie created a very adverse situation but he contacted the Pakistani community and the situation was contained.
Aizaz Chaudhry was of the view that Pakistanis living in the West should maintain contact with their native country but they should respect the values of the country where they live. He said that Pakistanis should not be involved in anything that damages the image of their native land.
About the current political and economic situation in Pakistan, the Foreign Secretary admitted that there are problems in the country but there are several people who are sincere in their efforts to uplift the country.
He said there are ups and downs in the life of nations just like individual human beings. The security situation in the country is improving and since June 2014 a national consensus has emerged to combat terrorism. The army has launched an operation in Northern Waziristan.
On Afghanistan, the Foreign Secretary said that Pakistan wants peace in the neighboring country at any cost. "We know that there will be no peace in Pakistan if the situation is not stabilized in Afghanistan."
He said that the Pakistan government is holding talks with the Taliban and a positive aspect of the meeting was that the Taliban recognized the government in Afghanistan by sitting with them on the conference table. He said talks are the only way to restore peace and war is the last option.
On relations with India, he said that unfortunately some incident happens when the two countries come closer. The Foreign Secretary said there was consensus that the people of both countries want better relations. "In Pakistan all leading political parties want cordial relations. However, many political parties in India have different views on relations with Pakistan."