Monday, October 20, 2008

Pakistani-Americans Ask Obama to Cool it

Pakistani-Americans ask Obama to ease rhetoric about bombing targets in Pakistan

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah

Chicago Tribune

October 10, 2008

A group of Pakistani-Americans and anti-war activists delivered a letter Thursday to the Chicago office of Sen. Barack Obama, calling on him to cool political rhetoric about bombing targets in Pakistan.

"We are particularly concerned with your public pronouncements earlier this week in support of violating the borders of our ally, the country of Pakistan. . . . You must understand the sweeping dismay that your avowed support for U.S. military incursions into Pakistan . . . has elicited among untold numbers of Pakistani-Americans and peace activists across the country," the letter stated.

During his debate Tuesday with Sen. John McCain, Obama said he was not calling for the invasion of Pakistan. But Obama added, "If Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down [Osama] bin Laden and take him out, then we should."

Ifti Nasim, host of a Pakistani radio show in Chicago called "Sargam," said the U.S. was "making a mistake" by "attacking Pakistan and making Pakistan your enemy."

He and other protesters criticized U.S. military incursions into Pakistan's tribal areas in the northwest part of the country to attack Taliban and Al Qaeda targets. They also decried the Bush administration's use of unmanned military drone aircraft, which have resulted in civilian deaths.

Nasim said McCain wants to continue the policy. The group plans to send a similar letter to the Arizona senator.

According to Said Umar Khan, his hometown of Mardan outside Peshawar in Pakistan's troubled North-West Frontier Province has seen a wave of displaced people escaping fighting in the tribal areas.

On Thursday, Obama campaign officials restated his comments from the debate this week. They said Obama understands Pakistan is an "important ally" and is calling for a partnership with the South Asian nation through increased U.S. aid for health, education and security.

Pakistani-Americans and other immigrant and anti-war groups such as the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism are planning an anti-war march at 2 p.m. Saturday at Devon Avenue and Leavitt Street.

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