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Pakistan Link: Promoting Cross-Cultural Communication

NCM Profile

NCM, Brahmani Houston Posted: Apr 05, 2004

When Pakistan Link changed hands four years ago, it took on a new shape. Its editorial board changed almost completely, it opened a bureau in Karachi, its readership expanded, its circulation exploded, it launched its website and a nationally recognized paper was born.

Pakistani Americans aren't the only ones who read Pakistan Link. It also attracts university professors, leading experts on Pakistan and Southeast Asia and young people, says Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui, editor of Pakistan Link, and bureau chief of their Irvine, Calif. office.

Faruqui, who gained his editorial expertise at Dawn, a leading Pakistani daily newspaper based in Karachi, says he runs into professors from UCLAand once, even the Los Angeles County Police Chiefwho say they enjoy and admire his paper.

These are heartwarming things for an editor to hear, says Faruqui. Im sometimes surprised at the response. People all over the U.S. read us avidly. This is proven, not only by the geographical diversity of their subscribers, but the many letters they receive from all over the country.

A large Southeast Asian and Indian readership consistently writes in and takes part in the papers dialogue. For Faruqui, this demonstrates the success of the papers spirit of conciliation between faiths.

Faruqui says Pakistani Americans' traditional values could benefit American culture at large.

Muslims in America could be a wholesome influence on other faiths in America, he says. Islam is the religion of peace. This is what we try to prove in our paper.

The paper's 40-odd pages include news, culture, opinions and religion. Although 25,000 readers subscribe to the paper, 5,000 others read it online every day at www.pakistanlink.com, which provides a supplemental Urdu link, published in the official language of Pakistan.

Before being purchased by IT success story Safi Qureshey, Pakistani Link was a small paper targeting the Pakistani community. Wasi Qureshey, managing editor and Safi's brother, has since then polished the paper to attract a more and more diverse population.

We dont want to be considered an ethnic newspaper, Faruqui says. We want to adhere to mainstream American journalistic standards.

The newspaper's success is reflected by the wide variety of advertising it attracts, from Halal KFCfor Pakistani Americans who want fried chickento South Asian satellite television packages and international airlines.

Faruqui says most of the newspaper's readers, like its staff, are business people, doctors, academics and technology experts. But many teenage, third-generation Pakistani Americans also contribute their writing and opinions to the paper.

When asked if young people write about conflict between their Pakistani and American cultures, Faruqui says, I dont think there is any sort of a clash. What inspires people to come to America is the better educational system. Its more of a dialogue than a clash.

Dr. Mahjabeen Islam, a regular columnist and obstetrician, reiterates this notion in a recent column. Surprised at the promiscuity of young Americans, she describes her first experience of prescribing contraceptive pills to a 13 year old, with the mothers consent.

Muslim families as a general rule do not allow halter-tops, mini-skirtscleavage and belly-button revealers, writes Dr. Islam. Dating is not allowed and no report has been filed that a child may have been scarred for life because of this.

Instead of dating, many Pakistani American parents, like Dr. Islam, would prefer their children to turn their attention to school. Higher education and Americas finer institutions of learning are the reason Pakistanis emigrate to the United States, Faruqui believes.

Contributing writer Akbar Ahmed, Ph.D., is a professor at American University in Washington, D.C. He has spoken on many nationally syndicated shows, such as Nightline, and writes articles that promote understanding between different faiths. In late 2002 he co-authored a piece for Pakistan Link with Amit Pandya, an Indian.

Together, they argue that the Indian and Pakistani resources spent on nuclear proliferation would be better spent on the poverty stricken masses of both nations. They conclude their argument by saying: With all of these similarities in mind, we, Indians and Pakistanis alike, should reexamine our past, which may well give us valuable clues on how to approach the future.

The fact that [Pakistani Links] focus is on conciliation shows that we try to respect to all points of view, says Faruqui. There are so many people of diverse backgrounds [in the United States] and they can all come to live in peace here.

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