Forum: The self-respect and self-confidence of the community is at stake

At a forum organized at the offices of Sada-e-Pakistan participants, including lawyers, journalists, and business leaders, discussed challenges that the Pakistani-American community faces in these times of the Registration Law

The proposal that the Mexican president made to Bush about providing amnesty to undocumented Mexicans in the United States has caught the imagination of Pakistanis. Several people at the forum wondered how politicians here, as well in Pakistan, could be asked to advocate a Vincente Fox-type of initiative on behalf of Pakistanis, since Pakistan is a key ally in the war against terrorism. Others wondered how the business, property and other assets of those who fled to Canada could be protected in their absence.

Shafqat Tanveer, a community activist, said that Egypt received $3 billion from the United States after it signed the Camp David accords with Israel, and subsequently receives $2 billion annually. We in the United States are only asking General Musharraf to ask his ally not to persecute Pakistanis in exchange for that country’s services. He said that a positive development is that the travails of Pakistanis in the United States is creating sympathy among Pakistanis across class.

Dr. Basheer Bajwa said that those Pakistanis who are in the United States legally and those who are citizens must make speak out about our problems with politicians, media and civil liberties organizations. Khalid Awan said that one thing that the INS and FBI activity has proven is that Pakistanis in the United States are peace-loving and hard-working and nothing else. There are no terrorists among us.

Attorney Mujibur Rehman said that undocumented Pakistanis should not register themselves without first getting specialized legal advice. Those Pakistanis who are here illegally but have applied for change-of-status and deposited the fee cannot be deported, he said. He added that The Pakistan Center was providing free legal advice.

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