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US citizenship of a Muslim now meaningless

May 28, 2005. Daily Times

By Khalid Hasan




Washington: America has been described as “a place where citizenship by immigration now has no value and can be taken away. Muslims, and specially Pakistani Americans, who represent the highest quality of professionals that came to America as immigrants, are being insulted daily at the US airports. Jobs are being denied and other forms of discrimination are taking place everywhere.”

According to Pervaiz Lodhie, a successful Pakistani-American technology entrepreneur and community activist based in California, the Muslim community and especially Pakistani Americans will be critical in rebuilding broken bridges between the US and the rest of the world. The US administration’s “over-reaction and over-correction” to the tragedy of 9/11 may have given America some temporary military triumphs globally but major economic losses are here to stay for a long time, he warns. He believes that the real reason for America’s economic slide and the continuous weakening of the dollar are a result of post-9/11 “fortress America” mentality.

“Commerce between the rest of the world is beginning to gather steam and momentum. South Asian countries like Pakistan are attracting global visitors and making big financial deals. Innovators and entrepreneurs who used to come to America to make it technologically most advanced state are now going elsewhere,” he points out.

Lodhie argues that after 9/11, US Congress hurriedly approved the Patriot Act that carried massive flaws and a potential for generating problems. The Act, instead of helping to contain localised terrorism, has done just the opposite and spread the cancer of terrorism to the entire body, isolating America from the rest of the world. Today, additional legislation continues to be enacted in Congress, which is forcing the world Muslim community of 1.3 billion to think twice before visiting American or doing business here. “Now more than ever before, some of the most affluent Muslims and Pakistani-American businessmen, professionals, scientists, engineers and doctors are actually leaving or thinking of packing up and leaving a country they had called home for decades,” he says.

Lodhie is of the view that the rush to unilaterally invade Iraq could not have been chosen at a worse time. Today, the US manufacturing sector, he notes, is in no hurry to increase production and is holding back so that it does not end up with excess inventories. Only the service and defence sectors are helping sustain a shaky economy. The use of military force may have succeeded in creating fear in the minds of the world’s Muslims, but it has alienated them from America, he stresses. It is clear that while the world becomes smaller, its economy has gone global, and, consequently, the United States will find itself slowly becoming less and less relevant. The next generation of consumers will mostly come from China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries in South Asia where most new jobs are being created. While America preaches poverty reduction, greater education and democracy in the developing world, its middle class is dwindling, the number of poor is growing, the quality of education is going down and the only beneficiaries of the system appear to be the rich and the well connected.

According to Lodhie, India is embarking on its own industrial revolution that will create jobs and new consumers across the country. India’s present reliance on the IT sector will be reduced. New Delhi’s bold move to impose a 36 percent export tax on IT work will help shift many quality jobs in India to the manufacturing sector. There are clear indicators that India’s self-imposed brakes on the development of its IT industry could become a golden opportunity for the-yet-to-start exportable IT industry of Pakistan.

Lodhie believes that Pakistan stands to gain most from the activity in South Asia due to its strategic location. India’s industrial revolution will need large fuel supplies for a very long time and the most economic fuel sources lie in Iran, Qatar and Central Asia. The shortest straight lines for pipelines that will bring them in will have to go through Pakistan, which is why the friendship between India and Pakistan will become irreversible.


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