New US envoy to deepen, broaden ties with Muslims
(AFP) – Sep 15, 2009
WASHINGTON — Farah Pandith, sworn in Tuesday as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's envoy to Muslim communities, said she would broaden ties with the world's Muslims to help solve "pressing" problems.
Clinton "has asked me to find ways to build strong partnerships and create new connections and join together with grass roots organizations to effect positive change," she said after swearing on the Koran to carry out her duties.
"Under the leadership of Secretary Clinton, the Department of State is recalibrating the way in which we work with Muslim communities around the world," Pandith said.
"Though this office, we will engage Muslim communities to solve collaboratively the most pressing problems facing these communities around the world," Pandith said.
Clinton said Pandith's office, which will both advise the secretary and the State Department, will focus on a broad array of issues.
"This is a dialogue that is not going to focus solely on terrorism or radicalization, but instead, focus on what all of us have in common, what we all hope for our children," Clinton said at the ceremony.
It will also deal with broader problems like poverty, hunger, climate change and corruption which are "not unique to any part of the world," Clinton said.
"In addition to these broad challenges, we have to focus on concerns of specific Muslim communities," she said.
"How are we going to get more investment into Iraq and put people who want to work back to work? How are we going to engage with young Muslims in Europe who feel marginalized or disassociated from their communities?" Clinton asked.
"How do we make sure that the message we send from our country is not just government to government, but people to people, community to community?" the chief US diplomat said.
Pandith immigrated to the United States as a child from Indian Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar. Previously she worked in the European bureau as a special adviser for outreach to Muslim communities in Europe.
In his inauguration speech on January 20, President Barack Obama vowed to seek a "new way forward" with the Muslim world "based on mutual interest and respect," after eight rocky years under his predecessor George W. Bush.