Deadline Now: S. Amjad Hussain, M.D.
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Deadline Now: S. Amjad Hussain, M.D.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dr. S. Amjad Hussain is professor emeritus of thoracic cardiovascular surgery at the University of Toledo College of Medicine. He is also an op-ed columnist for the Toledo Blade and a number of other publications. Since 1976, Dr. Hussain has visited Pakistan annually to teach at Khyber Medical College, his alma mater, in Peshawar. Dr. Hussain recently returned to the U.S. from Pakistan and will discuss the current political climate in Pakistan.

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Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of Deadline Now:

I would be willing to bet that prior to September 11th, the average American knew virtually nothing about Pakistan, and would have had difficulty even finding it on a globe. Well, there’s a lot more consciousness about that part of the world today.

But that doesn’t mean we really know anything about Pakistan, and few of us indeed have ever even thought about trying to see the world situation from the Pakistani point of view.  If I said that to some people, they would respond with something like, “Why should we?“

Well, I could answer that question in a lot of ways, but the best thing I could do in a case like that is hope that Amjad Hussain was sitting next to me and could do a far better job of answering.

But one thing I can do is point to a lesson from history. Seventy-four years ago, when Dr. Hussain was a toddler and most of us were not yet born, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said he didn’t see why his country should intervene to save Czechoslovakia from Hitler. It was, as he said “a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.”

Britain’s failure to do the right thing then led to World War II, and, indirectly, to the violent birth of a nation which did not exist when Dr. Hussain was born. A nation called Pakistan.

The words of great writers always endure longer than those of politicians. In this case, William Faulkner may have put it best: “The past is never over,” he wrote. “It’s never even really past.”

America is a great nation which has historically not always been so great at understanding the concerns of other nations, great and small. When we were an agricultural nation insulated by two oceans, that did matter very much. Today it does.

Pakistan today is a nuclear power with more than two hundred million people which straddles a highly volatile area of the world. I don’t pretend to know precisely what our policies toward Pakistan should be. I do know that if we ignore this vast multi-ethnic nation, or fail to treat it with respect, we do so at our ever-increasing peril.