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CNN.COM news story 10/99

CNN Live Interview/Profile

Pakistanis in America wait, wonder about future of homeland

Some members of the Pakistani community in New York City say they support the military coup because, they say, corruption had gotten out of hand in Pakistan  

October 13, 1999
Web posted at: 7:17 p.m. EDT (2317 GMT)

From Correspondent Maria Hinojosa .

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A street in Queens, New York, provides some 100,000 Pakistani-Americans links to their homeland. A bakery sells traditional Pakistani bread, the front page of the local paper carries news of Tuesday's military coup and talk about events in Pakistan is everywhere.

"It's a little sad that the democratic process was going on and all of a sudden the military had to come in, so that's what we were talking about," said Saquib Khurshid.

A local chef wasn't surprised by the coup.

"Oh I don't worry because this is not the first time. I'm used to it," said Sheik Aftab Iqbal.

But a taxi driver worries about family far away.
Pakistani army delays release of post-coup plans

"Because we have families over there -- we have worry too. Our friends and family, everyone is living there," said Mohamed Asif.

At the 24-hour Pakistani diner a group called the Friends of Pakistan meets to discuss the political situation.

For now, their members support the coup because, they say, corruption had gotten out of hand.
Correspondent Maria Hinojosa gathers reaction to the coup from Pakistanis in the United States
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They see themselves as an important voice in Pakistani politics. The money sent home by wealthy Pakistani-American businessmen like them makes up a significant portion of the country's gross national product.

"What we bring to the table is that we have a lot to contribute," Dr. Navid Iqbal said, "but give us an environment in which we can contribute."

Pakistani New Yorkers say they want the best for their homeland -- but divisions over the coup remain.

"It's not a perfect system and politicians have basically squandered many opportunities -- but still the military coming back clearly takes you back to square one," said .journalist Imran Anwar.