Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 11 - Interview with a Congressman

"Congressman Berman! Congressman Berman!"

More than ever, the Pakistani-American community is seeking a strong political stance in American Government. The Los Angeles community has been particularly active in having Pakistani Muslim voices heard in Congress, and with Pakistan's current crises, this initiative is tremendously valuable.

The media displays to the West only one side of the story (the side that most conveniently places Pakistanis in the "enemy" category), and organizations such as PAL-C, The Pakistani American Leadership Center, have been working tirelessly to gain the support of such high profile persons as Congressman Howard Berman. Such ties will help dispel inaccuracies about our country, its history, and our global community and culture, with the ultimate goals of improving U.S.-Pakistan relations as well as alleviating humanitarian, economic, and educational crises that are so prevalent in our beloved Pakistan.

At a meeting today in Pasadena, CA, Congressman Berman met with local advocates and initiators of this political and humanitarian push to

1) Gain a better understanding from Pakistanis of their view on Pakistan's history with America (ex. America's use and abuse of Pakistan against the Soviet Union came up as a topic, as did the subsequent issue of mass influx of 'Kalashnikov' and 'drug' culture from Afghanistan) and

2) Begin to hear what Pakistanis feel they need from their American Government, the most critical being monetary "trade, not aide" in the billions for conversion of weed-like extremist madrasas that have sprouted across the country into high-standard, normal public schools for all children and adults. The "trade, not aide" concept would also support higher-standard living for impoverished families, and would certainly help build much-needed infrastructure.

Of course, the devastating flood that recently hit Pakistan ( was also discussed as a point to show how much help Pakistan needs at this point in time to recover and then become a culturally and economically strong, democratic entity on its own. Congressman Berman revealed through the meeting and through his interview (screenshots above, yeayah) that he is not only well-informed and unbiased, but that he is also extremely dedicated to supporting the Pakistani-American community improve relations between America and Pakistan at the governmental level.

My involvement in today's constructive meeting? Copious note-taking and interview-filming.

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