Washington, Dec 16 (ANI): Pakistan will be the ultimate loser - both economically and politically - if immediate steps are not taken to curb extremism in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.
This was the consensus of about 100 prominent Pakistani-Americans, which included scholars, physicians, former World Bank officials, businessmen, intellectuals, and members of the religious minorities in Pakistan.
This unprecedented gathering was organised by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington to see how Pakistanis living in the US want their home country to respond to the current challenges, the Dawn reported.
The immediate cause for this town hall meeting was the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks which, according to one participant, caused 'much embarrassment and humiliation' to the Pakistanis living in America.
Shahid Javed Burki, former vice president of the World Bank and former Finance Minister of Pakistan, told the audience how violence, uncertainty and lack of planning was affecting the Pakistani economy.
"I have never been more concerned about Pakistan's economic future as I am now," he warned.
He predicted "a drastic contraction of the economy," leading to a "very sharp increase in urban unemployment and in the incidence of poverty."
Assad R. Akhter, legislative director for a senior Democratic congressman, warned that if extremism and violence continued unabated, the US Congress might not pass a proposed 15 billion dollars, 10-year aid package for Pakistan.
Muneer Ahmad, a professor of law at the prestigious Georgetown University, said that the new Pakistani government will have to let the world see that it was different from the previous government. "But that difference is yet to be seen."
Akmal Aleemi, a senior journalist who worked for Voice of America for more than 30 years, warned that the Pakistani nation had been raised on a 'theories of hate and falsehood' and unless it's corrected the country will never overcome extremism and terrorism.
Ambassador Husain Haqqani, who held this first-ever town hall meeting at the embassy, said Pakistan wanted to be a responsible partner of the international community. (ANI)