in America are Nice not What You Think
I had the opportunity of visiting the United States several times since 1999 and each time I was welcomed and respected. The smile was always there on their faces. May be I was one of the very fortunate ones but this is what I experienced. This does not mean that people don’t face tough times at the border. Yes, they do but it is all mostly due to security checks and not discrimination or racism. The Americans are wonderful and one of the best people in the world.
Don’t mix up the people with the policymakers and rulers, who have earned very bad reputation worldwide because of their super doings and deeds. Their policies and actions have shut most of the doors of the world for Americans themselves, who were once welcomed and respected everywhere but are now feared, disliked and hated. This is one of the negative contributions of the policymakers. They stand completely exposed now and have tarnished the image of the loving, caring and cooperative Americans.
The world is still surprised and wondering as to why the sensible, civilized and literate Americans vote, elect and tolerate such rulers who are harmful for them the most. They must train the brain to remain on the right track and understand the realities. Yes, this is what is needed.
People from every corner of the world are still crazy about America and want to reach there anyhow just because they know that the people are peaceful and loving and that there are many opportunities there. This is also a reality. It is still not too late. Some respect is left and that too just because of the people. Well, the Americans know their rights and are responsible for their fate. We can only pray.
My latest visits to the United States were in July and August of this year, 2005. Every bit of the moments passed was enjoyed very much and the visits became memorable. The first trip was made from July 16-18,2005. The group included Prof Ali Ahmed Fatmi, Shahid Hashmi of Canpak Chamber of Commerce and his two kids, Shakaib Hashmi and Sidra Hashmi, Hameeduddin of Awaz magazine, Sabiha Javed, my spouse, and myself. The purpose of the visit was to unite Prof Ali Ahmed Fatmi with his near and dear ones in Detroit (Michigan) and Columbus (Ohio). They were meeting after over a decade.
Prof Ali Ahmed Fatmi is Head of the Urdu Department, Allahabad University, India. He was invited to Toronto as a distinguished delegate to attend the Urdu Conference held recently. During this event, he came close to Shahid Hashmi, who was assigned the duty and responsibility of looking after the distinguished guests. He along with Dr Qamar Raees and Shahid Maholi, two other internationally renowned personalities from India, stayed at Shahid Hashmi’s house for several days.
Prof Fatmi expressed his desire to meet his near and dear ones in the US. Shahid Hashmi made a commitment and assured him of going there. The trip seemed almost impossible because of the very tight schedule and engagements of Shahid Hashmi but he kept his word and went there. The two kids accompanied him because his wife, Seema Hashmi, and two children, Sohaib Hashmi and Savera Hashmi, were out of Canada to attend a wedding in Pakistan and tour Europe. He was to join them in London on July 19, 2005.
On July 16, we left for Detroit. In the morning the weather was very good but in Detroit in the afternoon we faced a storm. It was very difficult to drive but Hameeduddin managed to keep on driving in this very bad weather as well. We finally reached Canton, a beautiful suburb. Here was located the house of Maqsad Allahabadi, a renowned scholar and an active member of the community. He arranged a gathering of selected personalities to introduce Prof Ali Ahmed Fatmi. People came from very far places as well to meet the international personality from India.
From there we went to Northville, another suburb, to meet Dr A. H. Hafeez, a psychiatrist. His daughter-in-law, Erum, is the relative of Prof Fatmi. After staying there for some time we proceeded to Columbus where we stayed at Dr Minhajuddin’s house. This house belonged to parents of Erum. The mother of Erum is relative of Prof Fatmi. We also visited Sohail Jalibi’s house. Sohail, who is also a writer, is brother of Jameel Jalibi, ex-Vice-Chancellor of University of Karachi, Pakistan.
On June 16 & 17, we stayed at Dr Minhajuddin’s house. In Columbus, we found one of the tyres slightly damaged. Shahid Hashmi did not take any risk and replaced all the four tyres of his Chrysler van. On June 18, we left for Northville again and from there for Toronto.
The second trip was on August 6 & 7. The purpose was to attend the Mehendi and wedding ceremonies of daughter of our very good friend Syed Aftab Hussain Rizvi, a prominent social and media figure of the community in Toronto. We went to Buffalo via Niagara Falls and Fort Erie. This time the group included Shahid Hashmi, his wife, Seema Hashmi, their two kids, Shakaib Hashmi and Sidra Hashmi, Hameeduddin, my wife, Sabiha Javed, my youngest child, Muhammad Talha Javed, and myself.
The Mehendi ceremony on August 6, which was organized and performed by children of Aftab and his friends, was simply wonderful. The brain behind the program was the bride herself. She worked damned hard to train them and ensure success of the event. After a very long time we saw such excellent family entertainment. All the children were very talented, simple and had brilliant academic record. Everyone was greatly impressed and fully enjoyed it.
The wedding on August 7 too was given a different touch. Aftab Rizvi, his children, relatives and friends and bridegroom made speeches on the occasion. Ghalib Iqbal, Consul General of Pakistan in Toronto, praised Aftab Rizvi and hoped that the day is not far when this person will be seen in the provincial or federal parliament. Guests attended the wedding from many parts of the world. Over 100 people, mostly dignitaries including Mr & Mrs Ghalib Iqbal, Shoaib Sarwar, Vice Consul General, came from Toronto, Canada.
I know Syed Aftab Hussain Rizvi since 1970s. He was a very good debater and a respectable social figure. He is presently engaged in real estate business. He is a man of special qualities and very impressive.
As regards Shahid Hashmi, I know him since 2002. I have found him a thorough gentleman, always ready to help anytime. He remains busy in making bridges and bringing people closer. People usually think that I work for Shahid Hashmi and funded by him. This is totally wrong. Our relationship is totally based on understanding, respect and tolerance. I disagree with him on many issues, which makes him uncomfortable as well. He keeps tolerating me despite our friendly arguments and differences.
Shahid Hashmi has introduced me to the community and his circle. This credit goes to him and I acknowledge it. This is one of his good qualities which keep me closer to him.
As regards fame and contacts, The Almighty has always blessed me with both. I never went for these since beginning of my career. It was never my desire. My objective was always to serve the people. Writing is my craze and in my blood. The problem with me is that I never compromise on my writing. I maintain my own style and expressions. It is up to the people to think whatever they like.
The hospitality at all the places was remarkable---full of love, care and respect. Both the trips proved good picnic. A lot of shopping was done in the malls and duty free shops. Although we were prepared for the strict checks but the border officials of both sides never bothered or harassed us. Their attitude was very good. The questioning and checking was normal.
Shahid Hashmi successfully managed the US tours and his commitment. The credit of both the trips, in July and August, goes to him. He took great care of the group and made it look like a family. He was the group leader on both the occasions.
In the United States, we missed some signs and exits but the people cooperated a lot in helping us reach the destinations. All the people we met were very nice. I kept wondering as to where are the hatred, racism and discrimination that people fear and propagate. As regards extremists, fanatics and lunatics, they exist everywhere.
So there is no point in disliking, hating and fearing the American people. They too must not hate and fear us. The wave of hatred and tension is directly the result of such policies and propaganda. It is done deliberately to divide the people and make them enemies. It is all a well-planned and calculated move.
It is the duty of every responsible citizen to expose extremists, fanatics, lunatics and criminals in action and ensure that they do not become a problem, harm the people, society and the system.
NOTE: WITH PERMISSION TO ETHICALLY PRINT AND USE.
Javed Zaheer (Masters in International Relations), Canadian of Pakistani Origin (CPO), Professional Freelance Journalist, Veteran Active Member (VAM) of Toronto Press Club, Council Member of Karachi Press Club, served as Senior Sub-Editor of Pakistan’s leading English Daily DAWN (1986-1999). Address: 1709-35 Thorncliffe Park Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M4H 1J3, Canada. Tel # (416) 696-0981.