70-year-old Pakistan has much to celebrate: Maleeha

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NEW YORK: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi told a large community gathering that Pakistan has met its challenges over the years by its resilience, faith and grit.

Speaking at an event organised by Pakistani-Americans in Bayside in New York, she told the audience that as Pakistan approaches its 70th anniversary of independence there is much to be proud of.

“We should remember and celebrate our accomplishments, even as we continue to face up to and negotiate our challenges”, she said.

Ambassador Lodhi said that the challenges were there but just as a resilient nation, Pakistan has managed to surmount crises and natural disasters, like earthquakes and floods, with exemplary strength and dignity, it will continue to overcome present day challenges.

Already, she added, the country had turned the corner on the economic and security challenges facing the country and this gives us the confidence to continue our efforts to ensure that Pakistan emerges from all its problems as a stronger and even more confident nation.

Saeed Hassan organised the event to recognise the contributions of community organisations and bring them all on a single platform.

Ambassador Lodhi gave away recognition awards to twenty major Pakistani- American organisations working in the New York area.

Other speakers at the event included Professor Dr Adil Najam from Boston University, Rizwan Qureshi, Senior Executive VP, HAB-Bank, Raja Ali Ejaz, Consul General and Shahid Khan, a Boston-based political activist.

Ambassador Lodhi, in her address, urged Pakistani-Americans to step up their political engagement, which she termed, “critical” to represent themselves, articulate their demands and voice their grievances. “If you don’t represent yourself, others will define you and misrepresent you”, she added.

She gave the example of the British-Pakistani community which has involved itself and participated actively in Britain’s politics and managed to elect dozens of Pakistani-origin representatives to the House of Commons while many have been nominated by different parties to serve in the House of Lords. This she held out as an example worth emulating.

She also cited, from her experience as Ambassador to US, where she served twice, about how an organised diaspora can help their country of birth or heritage.

“We managed to remove not one, but three layers of sanctions against Pakistan”, she said and added that “We could not have accomplished this without the support of the Pakistani-American community.”

“When they believe in a cause, our community does rise to the occasion and come together, united and strong”. And this, she said, was an important lesson: strength and impact came from unity.

For the younger generation of the community, Ambassador Lodhi advised them to join the media and the IT sector. “Communication is the key”, she said, “These are important areas to join”. She also urged them to exude confidence and take pride in their roots.

Pakistan’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping, engagement in all important issues and norm setting in the areas of development, human rights and security, is widely acknowledged and appreciated.

Pakistan, she said, was among the world’s top three troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missiosns.