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October 18, 2016

Pakistani, Indians join hands in support of Hillary


October 18, 2016

WASHINGTON: Despite serious tensions between their countries of origin, the Indian and Pakistani Americans are joining hands here in support of Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Although Republican candidate Doland Trump also enjoys support of hardline Hindu community in United States as shown in a recent event hosted in his honour by Republican Hindu Coalition, fresh surveys show Clinton draws far more backing from Indian-Americans than Trump does.

In Maryland State near the US capital, for the first time Muslims including Pakistanis and Indians of non-Muslim heritage partnered exclusively to host a political event. A Muslim of Pakistani origin Hamza Khan was key organiser of the event held to gather support for Democrats, along with Shruti Bhatnagar, the President of Indian American Democratic Club.

The Indian and Muslim communities of Montgomery County jointly hosted the campaign event for Hillary Clinton, which also featured meeting with Congressman John Delaney. Talking to The News, Bhatnagar said recent data had shown that Asian-American registered voters were increasingly identifying as Democrats.

“In the US, the Democratic Clubs in our area are coordinating their efforts to support the 2016 democratic campaign. Various South Asians groups here have worked for decades to achieve social cohesion and political progress. There has been a large base of South Asian democrats in the US for a long time” she added. 

“This unity is not limited to any one area. There are South Asians across the United States that appreciate the opportunity at social and political freedom this country offers, positively emphasise unity over division and disagree with the divisive rhetoric,” she said referring to the speeches of Doland Trump.

During the event, activists and community members spoke about the communities' priorities going into the US elections. "Over the past two years, activists and leaders in the Indian and Muslim communities have cooperated on several mutual legislative and public policy priorities," said Hamza Khan, who is also an adviser to the Indian Democratic Club. 

"We are proud of the growing sense of camaraderie and fellowship between our county's large and diverse Indian and Muslim communities, which is a direct result of our work to achieve a culture of tolerance and inclusion in Montgomery County." Khan is the son of Pakistani immigrants from Lahore.

The event took place at the residence of Indian-American Democratic Club vice president Naved who is an immigrant from Kolkotta, India.  Both Hamza and Naved have worked together for over a decade to involve their communities in the democratic process.

Montgomery County is home to thousands of Indian-Americans, and an estimated 100,000 Muslim-Americans. "We have a great respect for non-Muslim Indian traditions within our Muslim community. Our diversity as a county and region unites us against the divisiveness we have seen on the national stage," said Indonesian-American Association vice president and Montgomery County Muslim American leader Nadia Syahmalina on the occasion. 

"The time for us to unite as one people and one county is now, and the chance to speak together about our shared concerns, interests and values is something we have worked hard to achieve," said Bhatnagar.

US Representative John Delaney is a Democrat who represents Maryland's sixth congressional district. The district includes America's two most diverse cities by population, according to US census data: Gaithersburg and Germantown.

Over 20 languages are spoken in the sixth district, which stretches from Montgomery County to the West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders. The district is home to numerous Hindu Temples, Sikh Gurudwaras, and Islamic mosques. Delaney has been a staunch advocate for inclusion of diverse populations in the political process.


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