Obama pays tribute to Roshaneh Zafar of Kashf

April 28, 2010

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has vowed to build economic development partnership with Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries as part of his administration’s unprecedented outreach to the Islamic world aimed at fostering relations on the basis of mutual trust and respect.

Obama cited the story of a Pakistani woman’s success in pulling families out of poverty through micro-financing as he addressed a gathering of entrepreneurs from 50 Muslim countries and pledged Washington’s commitment to deepen business and entrepreneurship ties with them. The US president reinforced the economic partnership message by expressing his administration’s resolve towards addressing some of the thorniest political disputes, including the Middle East conflict, ending the war in Iraq responsibly and partnering with Pakistan and Afghanistan in their anti-militancy struggle through improvement in the lives of their people.

“As president, I’ve worked to ensure that America once again meets its responsibilities, especially when it comes to the security and political issues that have often been a source of tension,” he said at the Presidential Entrepreneurship Summit. Obama acknowledged the feisty challenge in bringing peace to the Middle East but committed that “despite the inevitable difficulties, so long as I am president, the US will never waver in our pursuit of a two-state solution that ensures the rights and security of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

“And around the world, the United States of America will continue to stand with those who seek justice and progress and the human rights and dignity of all people,” added the US president. Obama, whose approval ratings have helped bolster America’s image in several Muslim countries in the backdrop of Iraq and Afghanistan wars started by the former Bush administration, first articulated his vision to a “new beginning” with the Muslim world in a speech at Cairo last year. “The US is responsibly ending the war in Iraq, and we will partner with the Iraqi people for their long-term prosperity and security.

In Afghanistan, in Pakistan and beyond, we’re forging new partnerships to isolate violent extremists, but also to combat corruption and foster the development that improves lives and communities,” added the US president. Among some examples of successful entrepreneurship in the Muslim countries Obama highlighted at the summit was the story of a Pakistani woman, Roshaneh Zafar, who inspired by Bangladeshi pioneer Dr Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, has extended micro-financing through her “Kashf” organisation to help thousands of distressed families out of their financial woes.