Pak-American Congress moot soon
WASHINGTON: The annual three-day conference of the Pakistani-American Congress gets underway here from June 23 to 25.
The opening day sees a congressional reception on Capitol Hill featuring a number of US congressmen and senators as well as guests from Pakistan including Mohammedmian Soomro, chairman, Pakistan Senate, PML (N) leader Ishaq Dar, politician and lawyer SM Zafar and senators Akbar Khwaja of the PPP and Azam Khan Swati of the ruling party.
The next day’s proceedings feature five panels devoted to Pakistan’s federal and provincial relations, Kashmir, Pakistan-US ties, the need for a dialogue between Islam and the West and the role of the media. The session on federal-provincial relations will be chaired by Dr Akbar Ahmed, the one on Kashmir by Ishaq Dar, the one on Pakistan-US ties by SM Zafar and the one on Islam and the West by Prof Hafeez Malik of Villanova University, Pennsylvania. The final day’s session consists of a luncheon at which the keynote speaker is John H. Gastright Jr, deputy assistant secretary at the State Department’s South Asia bureau. Media awards are also to be given that day, the sponsors said. There will also be a ceremony to swear in the already elected new office bearers. Ashraf Abbasi from Texas, the current chairman of the Pakistani-American Congress, will step down to make way for Dr Wasiullah Khan of Chicago.
Dr Javid Iqbal and Mrs Javid Iqbal, who were to be the principal guests withdrew their US visa applications after they were told that their papers would have to wait for close to 10 weeks because of “clearance” from Washington. Dr Iqbal was also told, according to him, that his name triggered similarities with a name that was either under suspicion or considered undesirable. Dr Iqbal was outraged and decided, much to the disappointment of the Pakistani-American Congress, that given this kind of treatment, he was not interested in making the trip at all. Earlier, former Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Fasih Bokhari, who had gone to the US embassy in Islamabad for a visa, stormed out in disgust after he was subjected to a humiliating body search and security check by embassy personnel. The Admiral was planning to come here on a private family visit.