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
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.