Lodi Pakistanis are closely watching news from their home country as protests over a presidential power grab in the south Asian nation have led to hundreds of arrests.
“They are monitoring the situation very closely,” Lodi Muslim Mosque President Mohmmed Shoaib said.
At the Pak-India grocery store on Oak Street, worker Mumtaz Khan displayed newspapers in the local language, Urdu, bearing the latest headlines of the civil unrest.
Pakistan’s military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared a state of emergency on Saturday allowing him to crack down on dissidents protesting the legitimacy of his recent re-election. Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup, suspended the constitution ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on whether his re-election was legal.
The new imam of the Lodi Muslim Mosque, Ahmad Hashimi, arrived in Lodi from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, on Sunday. He said he will tell mosque members to remain calm.
“I think the people here are worried because the situation is very ambiguous in our country,” he said. “I will advise them to be very tolerant and peaceful because that is the message of Islam.”
Hashimi, who left a wife and two young children behind in Islamabad, said he is not overly worried about their safety.
“I am anxious to some extent about them, but I will make them in the custody of God,” he said.
With local television and radio blacked out across the country, Pakistanis living abroad are relying on newspapers and satellite television to bring them news from their homeland.
“A lot of people are glued to their TVs,” said Basim Elkarra, Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley chapter executive director. “People are concerned about the stability of the country. It’s going to change travel plans for some people.” (MORE)