App/The News, Sept 10, 2012
NEW YORK: Pakistanâ€™s Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman has urged Pakistani-Americans to help advance Pak-US relationship by fostering understanding and friendship between the people of the two countries.
Speaking to a large gathering of Pakistani community members at a luncheon organized by Consul General Fakir Asif Hussain, she encouraged them to actively engage with American public officials, members of Congress and local politicians to counter the negative image of Pakistan being projected by the media.
Ambassador Rehman told them that as the real ambassadors of Pakistan here, they should step up their efforts to apprise the American people of the key contributions Pakistan, as a front-line state, had made in fighting terrorism over last several years. A better understanding of Pakistani point of view about Pakistanâ€™s sacrifices in combating extremism would help the cause of the relationship, she said.â€
We have lost more than 43,000 Pakistanis to terrorism,â€ she said. Pakistanâ€™s economic losses were estimated at $78 billion, but itâ€™s commitment to eliminating this menace had not wavered. She proposed setting up cultural associations here to feature Pakistani art and music to boost Pakistanâ€™s soft power. And she also urged Pakistani-Americans to get involved in American politics to gain influence so that their voice is heard.
In Pakistan, Ambassador Rehman said a historic transformation was taking place. For the first time, an elected civilian government had completed its term. The government was engaged in strengthening democratic institutions, and an independent Election Commission had been set up ahead of the polls. The news media was free and was playing a dynamic role in strengthening democracy.
She also said that the current parliament had passed more laws to protect and promote womenâ€™s rights that any legislature in the past. Pakistan, she said, was committed to protecting religious minorities. In this connection she cited the speech Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah made on August 11, 1947, to the countryâ€™s Constituent Assembly in which he stressed that all citizens of Pakistan should be free to go to their temples, mosques, churches and places of worship.
Before returning to Washington after a hectic two-day visit to New York, she had an exchange of views with Pakistani journalists.