Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 01.22.2015

January 20, 2015

Today: Liz Blanchard, Northfield Women’s Center (Amerman)

Birthdays: Rotarians everywhere

Next Week: Lydia shares her youth exchange experience.

Last Week:
Why do 180 million Pakistanis tolerate the Taliban and its radical Islamic message? Ramiz Allawala, a principal in Gulfstone Leadership Training and a native Pakistani, says it’s complicated.

The oil shocks of the ‘70s that made Saudi Arabia a fabulously wealthy country, the United States decision to arm the Mujahideen to oppose the Soviet Union’s incursion into Afghanistan, and an internecine struggle within the Muslim world have painted Pakistan into a corner, creating a “perfect recipe” for an army of religious warriors.

The Saudis used their oil profits to export a conservative Islamic theology. The schools they funded in poor countries like Pakistan provided the only educational opportunity for children. They nurtured several generations, Ramiz said, who grew up exposed to radical Islamic ideas and carry antipathy toward Western culture.

Modern Pakistani culture has been shaped by a series of occupations over 3,000 years. What has emerged in the 21st century, according to Ramiz, is an eclectic, often self-defeating culture that values hospitality and family above all else, but is governed, in the end, by a sense of fatalism. All of this has created space for the propagation of the Taliban message with no room for competing ideas,

Pakistani culture requires deference to elders, said Ramiz. Their intense regard for hospitality allows radical proselytes to be invited in to the household. The entire family is subjected to the Taliban’s message, and no one challenges it.

He also said an amendment to a Congressional act in 1991 forced the United States to cut ties with Pakistan because of their pursuit of a nuclear capability. Prior to that most of Pakistan’s military officers were trained in the United States. We no longer have the benefit of that cross-cultural contact.

Behind the image of the bearded, gun-toting Taliban fighter, Ramiz said there are well-educated, sophisticated people working on the Taliban’s behalf, people who know how to exploit today’s technology.

The Taliban’s calculated attack on a Peshawar school in December that left 145 students dead was Pakistan’s 9/11 event, Ramiz said. He said he thought it might spark a wide-spread repudiation of the Taliban, but he is not optimistic that Pakistan is ready for that.

Guests: Camilo Zuluaga, a former exchange student from Colombia (Halvorson), Karen Allawala (Taylor), Deb Anderson (Anderson) and Faye Caskey (Caskey).

Scholarship Enhancement: Giulia Mercanti


—- Northfield is launching a “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” program to provide support for veterans and their families. A kickoff meeting is set for Monday March 2, 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Northfield Armory. Organizers are looking for any kind of professional or service work that would make life easier for these families. If you have questions, contact Virginia Kaczmarek.

—- Charlie Cogan reported that The Key has been recognized with this year’s Northfield Human Rights Award. The youth organization was recognized earlier this week at a gathering on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Corrine Smith, a member of the Northfield Human Rights Commission, told the Northfield News that The Key is a “remarkably diverse community.”

“It’s where youth of all backgrounds can find common ground,” she said. “It is a place where each individual’s worth is affirmed and perspective respected.”

Rotary has had an ongoing partnership with The Key over the last few years and we have collaborated on several fundraising initiatives.

—- Lynne Pederson thanked Rotarians for delivering Meals-On-Wheels.

—- Todd Thompson thanked those who helped him raise $10,000 through a crowd-funded campaign to teach music at schools in Guatemala. He will leave in February.

—- Rotary has sent a letter to the City Council in support of the skateboard park at Old Memorial Field. Skateboarding is an athletic activity the Rotary supports, and these facilities have been a longtime coming.

Past Northfield Rotary Club meeting videos on Youtube: NorthfieldRotaryClubVideos

Coming Up:

Feb. 5 — Sten Johanson, Delfi to Denmark (Willgohs)

Feb. 12 — Mary Jo Christofaro and Erica Zweifel, Northfield Solar Project (Zweifel)

Feb. 19 — TBA

Feb. 26 — Philipy inbound exchange student (Quinnell)