To kick off the University of Wisconsin Center for South Asia’s 50th anniversary year, a lecturer took questions regarding the current United States and Pakistani conflict during his address Tuesday.
Professor Mohammad Waseem is a Pakistani professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the leading academic institutes in South Asia.
Waseem’s address, “Pakistan: Democracy in the Age of Terrorism,” sought to present listeners with a better understanding of the feelings the Pakistani people have for American citizens and the American government.
Considering current U.S. and Pakistan relations, Waseem’s lecture unveiled relevant and unanswered issues. Without taking a stance on which country was in the right, Waseem described what the future might hold for his country.
“If the United States’ Army does withdraw in 2011 like Obama stated, Pakistan’s best interests must be kept in mind,” said Waseem. “To avoid a Taliban takeover, there should be two agendas of security and democracy.”
Waseem made it clear that once Pakistan is able to govern itself, neighboring countries such as India and China, as well as the United States, will have to make sure democracy does not dissipate.
The main goal for a democratic Pakistan should be to maintain a strong army while strengthening the foothold of democracy in the country, said Waseem.
However, Pakistani native and UW junior Bilal Allawala, has a different idea of how his home country can return to normalcy.
“American policies are creating not only problems for Pakistan but for the United States itself,” he said. “The United States should stop interfering in the domestic policies of Pakistan, because the country needs time to adopt a democratic government.”
Hiba Zakai, a second year graduate student at UW also agrees with Bilal.
“The Western world has a democracy that they push on the Middle East without realizing that these countries are not yet ready for democracy,” Hiba said.
Both Bilal and Hiba agreed with Waseem-the Pakistanis hold no hard feelings for Americans, but rather for American politics, they said.
“Pakistani people do not dislike Americans, but some do dislike American politics,” Waseem said.
Waseem left the audience members to ponder what would happen if U.S. troops do leave Pakistan in 2011-will Afghanistan use the withdrawal as an opportunity to attack the country in its stages of reconstruction?
Associate Director of the Center for South Asia Lalita du Perron said Director Jonathan Kenoyer, was excited to have Waseem visit UW.
No major public events are planned to celebrate the Center’s 50th year, du Perron said. Rather, a few small events are planned for students and faculty in the program.
Besides Waseem’s lecture, du Perron said the Center for South Asia will be hosting weekly lectures on Thursdays at noon in 206 Ingraham Hall for the rest of the semester.
These lectures coincide with the main goal of the Center for South Asia, which is to spread awareness about South Asia to the students and faculty, du Perron said.