Balochistan perception, Pak doctors doing wonders
Then by sheer dint of luck was invited to speak on Balochistan as member of four panelists on an alumni congress of Dogana (Dow Graduates Association of North America) with Anwar Iqbal of local English daily Dawn, and Sohail Waraich of a local TV Channel. It coincided with the APPNA annual congregation, arranged by the powerful organization called the All Pakistan Physicians Association of North America. They are doing a wonderful job here and can act, with government backing, to be a strong lobbyists for Pakistan here, a country, at cross roads of relations in its bilateral history of 66 years with Islamabad.
They can be a great marketing specialists for their country, to counter the negative propaganda from Indians, anti-state elements, and above all, by the fundamentalists, growing in number slowly but steadily, little realizing that in their fanaticism, they are not only hurting the image of their beloved Pakistan, but damaging the nobility and greatness of Islam in the process.
Luckily they are in microscopic minority. A very great number of Muslims, though wearing hijab and like to promote Islamic values, are deeply conscious of the fact that their action should be directed at creating cohesion, and there have been great number of instances where Muslims offered mosques for Christians to pray when their churches were flooded and likewise Americans take care of Muslim interests.
They all live in peace and harmony. That is a good thing. It was clear, fairly reasonably after my inter-action with those focusing on South Asia, that neither the US administration nor the peace lovers want to do or encourage anything damaging to the region or its unity. They all want Pakistan to flourish, and even the American government is keen on developing the social sectors in Pakistan and see India-Pakistan end their feuds, live like prudent neighbors, friendship and cordial being the hallmark of their ties. None of them want Balochistan to secede, certainly not the government here. Consensus was evident that a couple of lawmakers, moving resolutions in Congress to back Balochistan separatists, are considered novices and have failed to get any support.
They dispelled impression that the resolution, once moved, remains on the House agenda for any time to be taken up. Nothing of the sort. If a resolution is not registered for debate, it loses legitimacy and automatically get erased. There is no fear; therefore, of Congress of Senate backing Balochistan separatists, at least till such time we ourselves decide to commit suicide. Bangladesh creation was our own mistake. We, in our stupidity drove the Bengalis to a point where they were forced to garland the enemy. We refused to shake hands with our own people.
If that foolishness is allowed to gain strength, it will be our own fault, not of any outsider. Farsightedness demands that Baloch splinter groups be invited for talks. America wants to see Pakistan united and grow in strength, and are keen to see its economy improve. Luckily, friction over supply to Afghanistan is greatly reduced, but Hilary Clintonís recent speech in Kabul granting non-NATO ally status to Afghanistan may cause concern in Pakistan, because Afghanistan army, if equipped and trained by US military, may some day become ominous to our integrity.
However, Pakistanís case has been suffering from marketing problem. Its image is extremely bad in America. We have persistently refused to help it improve and selling Pakistan has become a difficult job for the new Ambassdor Sherry Rehman. She is literate and enlightened lady has been doing her best to have rapport with opinion and policy makers here to sell the Pakistani point of view to them. But a bad product, which unfortunately Pakistan has been for the last five years, is difficult to sell. Pakistan needed to improve itself internally. If corruption is checked, and parliament-judiciary tussle is over, it may be easier for Sherry to work even harder to market her country, and help better its image for the American pressure groups, which in turn, will automatically influence the government to be much more helpful to Pakistan, than at present.
It is in this context that the job of the Pakistani doctors, who are thousands in numbers, spread all over major and minor towns, to do image building for their country. I was convinced after being part of their annual convention in Washington, that if they can congregate in such huge numbers for their own professional-cum-social sessions, they surely, can liaison with Americaís elected representative, Democrats and the Republican party leaders, with which they have good connections, to back Pakistan on sensitive issues, like development work within our country, and in keeping peace in the region. They needed to be backed by their government.
A much greater attention is required to rebuild Pakistan image here, than has been done till date, especially in recent times. Dr Talha Siddiqi, heading the Dow Graduates alumni, Dr Saima Zafar, heading the APPNA as its current president, Dr Fareed Qazi, currently organisationís treasurer, and would be secretary and president in next two years, Dr Fauzia Wali Khan, Dr Zahid Imran have all been very, very active. The Dow alumni dinner, after the social session, had huge attendance. Dr Mohammad Ali Jawad,received the presidential award, Dr Muhammad Sharif Ashraf was given life time award.
He has now moved to Karachi to look after his cancer hospital. Devoted as he is he has given up his private practice to ensure free treatment to cancer patients, Dr Ayyaz Qureshi, Dr Tasleem Mirza. They and many more are doing yeomen service. Their good offices should be utilized by Islamabad to help sell Pakistan to American opinion makers. They can be our best ambassadors and lobbyists. As for fanaticism. It is there. Some ladies go to Pakistanis and tell them that birthdays are unislamic, asking the girls and ladies to wear hijab. But a large number of ladies, believing in Islamic values, are very enlightened, and adopt an enlightened approach.
They build good relationship and harmony between religions. So, there is always a two sides of a coin. Good thing is that moderation and enlightenment weigh heavily and far outnumber those harbouring ill wills or try to mislead Muslims. There is no tension between locals and settlers, respect for religion or faith is mutual. Stories fanned in Pakistan about religious intolerance are mostly and highly exaggerated, and need to be dismissed lightly. Pakistani children are treated equally like normal Americans.
Minor or isolated cases may have happened, but time has been a great healer, and with the passage of time, any ill will or bad feelings that may have been noticed initially after world towers attack in September 2001,have dissipated. There is no ill will or bad feelings. In facton and after the 9/11 incident many Americans assured their Pakistani friends to let them know if they feel any kind of threats from ďugly Americansí. That was indeed reassuring, and that also brings me to a happy ending to my story. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org