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> Dialogue on Relations between Muslims and the West
Western Parliamentarians of Pakistani Origin interact with Pakistani intellectuals, Media and MPs

   
 
Dialogue Series
April 18, 2008
Islamabad


Current State of Relations….[PDF]
Pakistani Diaspora in the West…[PDF]
Pakistan's Image in the West…[PDF]
   

PILDAT successfully concluded the 1st segment of the Dialogue Series on Understanding Relations between the Muslim World and the West with Legislators of Pakistani Origin. Three Western MPs of Pakistani-origin who participated in the Dialogue included:

 
 

  • Chaudhry Khalid Mahmood, Member Norwegian Parliament (Storting)
  • Baroness Kishwer Falkner of Margravine, Member of the UK House of Lords
  • Mr. Sajjad Karim, Member of the European Parliament: participated in the Dialogue Series

 
 

Aimed at discussing various challenges faced by Pakistan as a majority Muslim country vis-à-vis its relations with the West, PILDAT sought to involve legislators of Pakistani origin, given their understanding of not only Pakistan but their political and legislative roles in Western democracies, to engage with their Pakistani counterparts, intellectuals and the media. The Dialogue Series held sittings at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad on April 15, 16 and 17, 2008 on the following topics under the overall theme of ‘Understanding the Relations between Muslims and the West’:

 
 

  • Pakistani Diaspora in the West: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem in the context of Muslims-West Relations?
  • Pakistan’s Image in the West
  • Current State of Relations between Muslims & the West: the Way Forward
Pakistani panelists in Karachi included:
  • Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor Sindh
  • Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Senior Journalist, Jang-The News-Geo Group
  • Ms. Huma Baqai, Associate Professor International Relations
  • Ms. Shazia Marri, Minister of Information, Govt. of Sindh
  • Dr. Meraj-ul-Huda Siddiqui, Vice President, Jamaat-e-Islami, Sindh
The Western Legislators interacted with the following intellectuals at Lahore:
  • Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Shahid Hamid, Former Governor Punjab
  • Mr. Shafqat Mehmood, Former Senator & Minister
  • Mr. Ejaz Haider, Executive Editor, Daily Times
  • Prof. Imran Ali. Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
In the concluding Dialogue of this segment at Islamabad, the Pakistani panel included:
  • Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Former Minister for Information
  • Dr. Nafisa Shah, Member National Assembly (PPP, Sindh)
  • Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Talat Masood, Security and Political Analyst
  • Dr. Tahir Amin, Head International Relations Dept., Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad
  • Dr. Anis Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, Rifah University, Islamabad
  • Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Asad Durrani, Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Germany
  • Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani. Chairman Gallup Pakistan

 
 

In addition, the dialogue participants included prominent personalities from the media, members of the Youth Parliament in each city, civil society representatives, members from lawyers and other professional organizations, diplomats and international agencies, legislative secretariats, and defence, security and foreign relations analysts. Each of these dialogue sittings involved the foreign MPs and local panellists’ interaction with the participants on key questions defining the relationship of Pakistan with the West. PILDAT will be publishing reports and discussions of these sittings for further dissemination.

 
 

One of the major themes emanating out of the dialogue series was that a dialogue was indeed crucial between Pakistan as Muslim country and the West, but contrary to general practice, the dialogue has to be held in an objective manner without resorting to emotions, anger, accusations and counter-accusations. There exists a deep gulf between perceptions and understanding of perspectives of each other. Not only this gulf needs to be bridged through the dialogue but the dialogue can also help towards each side engage in a sincere introspection to find solutions to the problems that challenge the two sides in this sphere.

 
 

During the course of the dialogue, it was agreed by the panellists that it remains the responsibility of Pakistan to steer its course as an independent Muslim democracy. Elections 45%8 have greatly helped to shatter the largely hyped-up stereotype that Pakistan is a weak autocratic state ready to fall into the clutches of extremism. The foreign MPs of Pakistani origin believed that Pakistan was indeed the most vibrant democracy with a deeply-ingrained democratic ethos of the people in the entire Muslim World. It was up to the newly elected democratic Government of Pakistan to rid itself of the vestiges of dictatorship and enter into a mature and responsible dialogue with countries of the World. There was also an agreement that the West, with its use of soft power, has won hearts and minds before around the World, it is the use of West’s military might and hard power, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq and the threat against Iran, which is contributing mainly to the negative perceptions about the West in the Muslims, as indeed in citizens of the World belonging to different faiths and ideologies. The Western democracies, indeed, need to engage in self-introspection on some of these issues, the panelists believed, especially on what the Western course should be in “interacting” with Political Islam.

 
 

Three Discussion Papers were prepared by PILDAT corresponding to the topics of the dialogue. These Discussion Papers provided background information and Key Questions that need to be answered. These papers were provided to the participants ahead of the dialogue.

 
 

There are around 16 legislators of Pakistani origin elected to different Parliaments and state legislatures of countries such as UK, USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and the European Parliament, etc. The second and third segments if the Dialogue Series involving Legislators of Pakistani Origin is planned for Summer and Winter 2008.