The former Virginia Governor, who is expected to have a close contest with Democratic contender and former Governor Tim Kaine in the Senate race this fall, was speaking at an event in Springfield, home to a large Pakistani-American community, estimated to number around 100,000 in the state.
Applauding Pakistani-Americans’ contribution to development of the state, Allen particularly noted the community’s commitment to higher education for their children and the entrepreneurial spirit with which they advance in various fields of endeavor.
Chairman, Pakistan-American Business Association, Sheikh Siddique, hosted the event and welcomed Allen to discussion with members of the vibrant Pakistani-American community that has been growing across the state.
Allen, whose family is heir to a multicultural heritage, exchanged views on a panoply of ideas with participants on issues ranging from economy, taxes, immigration, energy, education to healthcare reforms.
America needs to recover and bolster its economy quickly and make use of its ingenuity to ensure a bright future for the coming generations as well as maintain U.S. leadership in world affairs, he argued.
“Most people that I listen to care about jobs, the economy and in particular whether their children will have the same opportunity going forward that we had to realize the American dream, “ he said.
According to Allen, Americans are currently contending with the worst job market situation since the great depression and 50 percent of young people graduating in the country are either unemployed or underemployed.
“We need to get our economy moving and making our country more competitive for jobs and investment –– we ought to use our energy resources.
As part of his broader vision, Allen favored the idea of America granting green cards to foreign students who graduate in specialized fields and can give American a competitive edge in the fast-changing world.
“Legal immigration will be very important for America ….I have said this for many years — when you see people graduating in important fields attach green cards to their degrees….. I want America to be a magnet for brightest minds.”
Another interesting subject, Allen discussed centered around exploiting plentiful U.S. energy resources.
The Republican leader argued strongly that replacing the current energy policies would help create over a million new jobs and generate additional two trillion dollars to the government revenue, without having to resort to any raise in taxes.
Speaking specifically about the Pakistani-Americans, he praised the spirit of the first generation of immigrants who land in America in search of a better future. They strive both to establish themselves economically and devote hard-earned money to give higher education to their children.
Allen told the gathering his next door neighbors are Pakistani-Americans and whether they are people like Siddique, who came here many years ago or those who came later and recently, they work hard and succeed in both small and big business and in the fields of medicine, creativity and technology. He cited Sheikh Siddique as an example of American success story.
“They have enriched our country in about every field you can think of ….we are fortunate to have them as part of our neighborhood and communities….they work really hard – very long hours they value education very highly.”
He expressed his support for the U.S. and Pakistan overcoming some of the lingering challenges in the bilateral relationship to forge a strong relationship going forward.
Allen, who visited Pakistan in the wake of 2005 earthquake, when American Chinooks ferrying relief supplies for victims were called ‘angels of mercy’, recalled how he met with children who had drawn American helicopters with smiles on their faces.
“When I saw this it was wonderful. And I told American soldiers that they are the best ambassadors of the country. That is the goodwill we need to foster.
“It is absolutely essential that the U.S. and Pakistan rebuild their relationship.”
The former governor said al-Qaeda and the Taliban are common enemies of both countries as they have inflicted sufferings on Pakistanis as well and their threat gives the two countries a common cause to work together.
Meanwhile, according to the American media the latest poll figures from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling suggest that Kaine, who has statistically one percent lead (46 to 45) and Allen, are locked in a virtual tie at the moment.
The two former governors are in the race for retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Jim Webb’s seat.
“The virtual tie between the former Virginia governors adds more fodder to the credo that the race will be one of the closest – and most watched – in the country this year,” a report in The Washington Times noted .
Sources : MGCT, Pictures by Asim Siddiqui
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