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US Elections: Indian, Pakistani diaspora communities conduct join rallies

Oct. 27, 2020, 4:34 p.m.

Washington: On 14 December 2012, news broke of a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Indian-American investment banker Shekar Narasimhan remembered how 20 children below the age of 10, and six adults were killed in the shooting.

He said that he was at the White House when the news broke, adding that everyone fell silent and the mood quickly turned mournful.

On the very day, Narasimhan became familiar with Syed, a tech entrepreneur in California said that their hearts met. 

“I found one person in the room who happened to be a fellow South-Asian American who was as emotional as I was,” Syed Dilawar, a Pakistani American, said.

The two of them soon co-founded the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Victory Fund (AAPIVF). The group aims to mobilise these communities and put forward their issues in local and national politics. 

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders account for more than 20 million people in the US, however, their voter registration and turnout are said to be lower than the national averages for other communities. They work together in their attempt to change this.

The people from both communities are often in opposition to each other. However, the image isn’t the same in America where both are a part of the same South Asian diaspora and often work together during political campaigns.

Narasimhan further explained that Syed had access to different networks that he didn’t and he wanted to work with Syed because he belonged a different community and also lived in a different part of the US.

However, the two men had the similar believe that Joe Biden’s victory will lead to a “more equal, just” America and thus their group supported the Democratic candidate for the presidency in January.

Both countries somewhere or the other share a lot of similar things including cultural influence, language, food and other habits. also their love for Bollywood is mutual. Syed said that they also happen to share similar values.

Despite the disputable and complicated relationship between both the countries they say that they eventually try to avoid matters like that of Kashmir on which they know they won’t agree. 

Moreover, Narasimhan said the two communities are far more concerned about issues that personally influence and affect their everyday lives – and that for their children, who were born and raised in the US, the India-Pakistan dispute is not a big factor.

Talking of 9/11 and its repercussions Syed said that the September 11 attacks led to various hate-crimes against Muslims, Sikhs and people of Arab and south-Indian descent.

According to a survey conducted in 2016, 88% of Pakistani Americans and 77% of Indian Americans had voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the last election. Only 5% of Pakistani Americans and 16% of Indian Americans had voted for Trump in 2016.

The survey reveals that Indian Americans rather consider economy and health as the main issue of the elections.

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