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 U.S.-Pakistan relations.
Rep. Berman, 69, represents
California’s 28th Congressional District in the U.S. House
of Representatives. He is also the chairman of the Foreign
The Congressman started out
by stating that his goal and the goal of the U.S. is to
with Pakistan that are less transactional
and more deep-rooted. He explained that being transactional
involves using the nation when needed, and then forgetting
them otherwise. Rep. Berman said he believes that that
isn’t the way to 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. They spoke about
the U.S. 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 U.S. 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—education and trade will.
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 Maddad,
Janice Berman (the Congressman’s wife), and
Gene Smith and Esther Azal from Rep. Berman’s staff.