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Be kind to parents, and the near kinsmen, and to orphans, and to the needy, and to the neighbour who is of kin, and to the neighbor who is a stranger, and to the traveler, and to that you right hands own. Surely God loves not the proud and boastful. Quran 4:36.

Sohni Dharti Allah Rakkhey

By Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui

On March 23, 1940 the Muslims of the subcontinent resolved to establish Pakistan. The decision was not taken in haste nor precipitated by a sudden, dramatic turn of events.

Hindus and Muslims had lived in India for centuries but had remained two distinctly different cultural entities presenting marked dissimilarities that neither time nor assimilative forces could erase. They were like two streams running a parallel course. So manifest and so profound were the differences that the London Times, commenting on the Government of India Act of 1935, had to ungrudgingly concede: ‘Undoubtedly the difference between the Hindus and Muslims is not of religion in the strict sense of the word but also of laws and culture, that they may be said indeed to represent two entirely distinct and separate civilizations…’. True.

This incontrovertible realization found a more convincing elucidation in the words of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: ‘Notwithstanding thousand years of close contact, nationalities which are as divergent today as ever, cannot at any time be expected to transform themselves into one nation merely by mean of subjecting them to a democratic constitution and holding them forcibly together by unnatural and artificial methods of British Parliamentary Statutes.’ Thanks to Mr. Jinnah’s unwavering leadership and untiring efforts, Pakistan was transformed from an ideal into a reality in a short span of time. In 1947, seven years after the passage of the historic Pakistan Day Resolution at Lahore, the world witnessed the emergence of the largest Muslim state.

But the path to independence and separate nationhood was strewn with a multiplying myriad of problems. First and foremost was the claim to nationhood vehemently contested by the Congress stalwarts and their supporters. How could a community of converts claim itself to be a nation? Gandhiji posed the question as he ridiculed the Muslim League’s claim to independent nationhood. The Quaid was quick to furnish the answer: “Mussalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homeland, their territory and their state...

“The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literature. They neither intermarry, nor interdine together and, indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state…”

What was true then is also true today.

Is there a role specially cut out for Pakistani Americans to help the country tide over its pressing problems, its multiplying set of challenges? The answer is simple. We have to prioritize a number of tasks as we chalk out a course to bring about a wholesome change on the home front.

As stated in these columns before and reaffirmed once again this week - on the occasion of the forthcoming Independence Day of Pakistan - it is imperative to have a learned Pakistani, an eminent academic associated with the Georgetown University in Washington. The academic could interact with various think tanks, Congressmen, State Department officials, and researchers engaged in the study of South Asia. He could address symposia held in the American capital and present “not a Pakistani view but a view about Pakistan”, as Professor Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution put it.

The second task for the Pakistani American community is to sponsor the visits of American academics to Pakistan. The visits could be of both short or long durations and offer the researchers an opportunity to share the Pakistani perception on various issues as well as to get to know the country and its people more intimately. Professor Cohen, a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution and a friend of Pakistan who has written several insightful books, visited the country after fifteen years of his regular sojourns to India. He found the country very different from the picture that he had formed in his mind on the basis of impressions gained in India. The views of other academics could likewise be altered if Pakistani Americans were to take the initiative and offer financial support to prospective visitors.

A third task for Pakistani Americans is to support the education sector in Pakistan. Giving a boost to the education program is a major pressing necessity. It is gratifying that some groups, including APPNA, HDFNA, Safi Qureshey Foundation, DIL, et al. were active and seized of this role but much more needs to be done. Explicit details need to be worked out with an air of urgency.

Another role that the Pakistani Americans could voluntarily take upon themselves is to serve as a bridge between the US and Pakistan by lobbying for Islamabad and projecting the national point of view on crucial issues like Kashmir.

The four tasks have already found expression, though to an imperceptible degree, in some of the initiatives of Pakistani Americans. Yet, a lot still needs to be done and without loss of precious time.

There are quite a few shining examples of expatriate communities in the US rising to the occasion and coming to the rescue of their country of origin. They have acted like mini-multinationals by gainfully employing cheap and abundant labor at home and diffusing, in return, higher technical skills in the manufacture of value-added products. A speedy technological uplifting of the mother country has been the goal of some communities, while others have been more active on the political front and have been successful in achieving tangible results. The goals have been well defined and the blueprints drawn up to the minutest details. The results were spontaneous, sustained, and had a chain-reaction effect with many wholesome spin-offs and ramifications. What applies to the strivings and successes of other expatriate communities applies equally to the zest and zeal of the enterprising community of Pakistani Americans.

Pakistan Zindabad!

[taken from http://www.pakistanlink.com/Editorial/08082003.html]

Date/Time Last Modified: 2/25/2004 1:18:49 PM

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