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By Dr. Malik S. Khan



The Millennium Forum conference was held May 22-26, 2000 at the United Nations.  The conference was dynamic in many aspects, and it is obvious that the questions asked were answered not individually but collectively.  Some of the speakers outspokenly brought up the difference between the rich and the poor.  Some participant’s statements reflected only their individual experiences.  Some of the Western participants did not understand the Third World’s problems.

This conference was geared to bringing public awareness worldwide of what the U.N. was formed for, where the U.N. is going, what the U.N. should do, how we can assist the U.N. to be more effective, and how the U.N. can facilitate Planet Earth and its creatures as one family.  Most of the U.N. building was put to use for five days by 1350 invitees.  At the people’s forum, both sides of the coin were represented to explore the dynamics of world politics. The forum provided tremendous data on the position of the world’s nations, reflecting each one’s activity.  Various groups looked at issues from their perspective and presented their views.  The forum ended with the issuing of a Declaration and Agenda for Action: Strengthening the United Nations for Preparing for the 21st Century.

The Millennium Forum was organized into workshops, with many different workshops on different topics taking place in different rooms at the same time.  We decided the best we could do under those circumstances was to go into all of them, one by one, pick up their printed material of our choice, and see where the highly interesting speakers were presenting their statements.  Sometimes the panels were singing the specific tunes of programmed robots who had only a one-sided picture.  Sometimes questions were asked, and participation overall was very good, but many questions were left unanswered.  Each panelist would make statements which he was conditioned to make and could not answer questions due to lack of knowledge.  Certainly the field study workers can make a dynamic job and share the knowledge in circumstances where they have worked.

The super nations are working on Star Wars or space wars, whereas the poor nations are looking for means to combat starvation.  The nations with conflicts are forced to compete with their opposition on weapons of mass destruction.  The world today is rapidly changing in technology.  We all are responsible to take positive steps to shape our actions, thinking: What kind of world order will future generations inherit from us?

Let us be realistic about the world’s demands of today and tomorrow.  We have to prepare our `ummah and children for the 21st Century.

Let us give a chance to a fresh approach by giving leadership opportunities to the most qualified among us and new blood who will lead us to a new image on the horizon by establishing sound policies for our common goals.

A representative spoke on encouraging leadership to change the world.  Essential elements are competent leadership based on relevant organizational principles.  We need long-term concern with the consent of the people instead of short-term politics.    Definitely transparency in democracy will offer relief.  Laws and administrative rules must be enacted for gender equality so women may enjoy equality.

We have to get the benevolent think tank, which should gear its thoughts to solving problems.  Policy makers and decision makers must avail themselves of the think tank’s collective wisdom to enact policies, programs, and public works to prepare ourselves for new challenges.

The religious, the humanistic, the individualistic, and the atheistic approaches to problem-solving varied from country to country, culture to culture, and religion to religion.  There is also the scientific approach, under which the problem and parameters are to be clearly defined and a field study to be conducted to arrive at a solution that can accommodate and benefit all nations and all races, individually and collectively equal.

Various speakers spoke regarding the U.N. facing problems in different parts of the world and how the decisions could be made.  The future positive role of the U.N. for the betterment of humanity is reemphasized.  This time the Forum also introduced farmers, peasants, factory workers, the homeless, and the jobless to have an effective voice to stand up for their rights.

A speaker mentioned the problem of restrictions on the transfer of technology, making it difficult for third-world countries to modernize.  New protection weapons are used.  Rich and powerful nations want to use tools and strategies to monopolize for globalization, but globalization

 at the grassroots is needed.  The need for all nations to have an equal say was emphasized.  The poor countries can go for controlling their destinies if they live on their resources independently., but initially they will need help to do so.

The high-minded legacy of the U.N. in the fields of global economy, social policy, trade, education, and technology needs all nations to cooperate to provide a better quality of life.  Economic globalization as it is practiced today, as was brought up by certain speakers, further increases poverty and threatens the environment.

Some panelists informed the conference that English-speaking nations have 48% of the voting power in different international decision-making forums such as the World Bank, IMF and other institutions.  A new financial architecture is needed.  Otherwise it will go to chaos and disaster.  It will become another form of slavery or new colonialism. 

Economic globalization is largely guided by market forces, and non-state actors like transnational corporations are playing an increasingly important role which is beyond government intervention.  Each nation’s economy becomes merged into a single, worldwide, global economy, which affords them both integration and independence on the economic, political, technological, and cultural levels.  Political decisions are increasingly taken at the global level in various multilevel forums.  Technological changes are brought in information and communication technologies.  Cultural globalization points to the spread of similar lifestyle and consumption patterns and far-fetched entertainment.  The dangers are total distrust of way of life and imposing the new phenomena with bitter consequences.  It will be all the way one-way traffic, one-sided globalization.  Everything will be controlled and operated by foreign entities sitting in different countries, who will own the whole world like a commodity exchange.  A Third-World country, to be self-sufficient, does need tariff regulations and other tools to protect and give opportunity to establish its own factories.  Simultaneously, it does require some sort of competition to refine its product.  Whereas the industrialized world, using its strategies and money-lending operation, buys raw materials and uses cheap labor to put out products with the transnational corporation’s brand name, and makes it impossible for the underdeveloped nations to compete.  Where the Third World countries’ resources remain at the same price or lower, the Western world refined product is selling at ten times more.  For instance, a car price was $3000 to $5000 on average, but today a car is beyond $25,000, and a luxurious car is beyond $100,000. In 1968 a Mercedes sold for $5000.    Today a similar Mercedes sells for $100,000. Devaluation of currency geometrically increases the difficulty of bringing a country’s inflation under control.  Poverty eradication cannot be accomplished unless the corruption, war machines, and money-lending tools of devaluing currency are stopped.    The U.N. should gear its aid to helping Third World countries to establish their own refineries and factories to make products out of their raw materials and sell them on the world market.  That will lead these countries to economic self-sufficiency, providing these countries use their new income for social welfare programs.

Worldwide poor countries’ economies have imbalance of trade, where imports are more and expensive and exports are cheaper, and even to export to the peak level they cannot meet the demands of imports or running their countries social programs.  Unfair trade will be called a free and fair market economy, actually disguising a double standard based on the concept of eventual total monopoly.  The Third World countries would not be able to touch those commodities.  They will be only for the rich to have.

We all need to be very realistic and tell not only the truth but the whole truth.  All the nations are equally responsible for any disaster course that the future generations will face worldwide due to the strategies to achieve higher rate of return played with currencies.  The money-mongers and mortgagors use strategies by gambling with the currency of the nations, burdening the nations further into debt and grinding their own ax for the worst abuse of usury.  By their schemes they achieve two to three hundred times of the old mortgage value.  The Third World countries are deeply in debt and have no means to pay back.  The worthless paper promissory notes will eventually widen the gap between rich and poor countries to a full chasm.  The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, showed clearly what the outcome would be, and eight years later the world is facing those difficulties which were predicted.  For instance, the Pakistani rupee then was ten to a U.S. dollar; now it is fifty to one.  Similarly, many other currencies in the world have suffered due to the lack of understanding.  Only the manipulators have benefitted, but they cannot continue to much longer, because the milk of their cash cow has dried up; they have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

No rich country on Earth will be able to provide mass immigration from poor countries, where the population is already at alarming density.  Aid needs to be based on the system of the General Eisenhower era, where the rich countries took their surplus resources and gave them freely under the aid programs.  Every nation has some kind of resources, whether agricultural, mineral, or other.  These resources can be pooled on the basis of self-endowment programs so each nation can stand on its feet and survive peacefully and coexist in the world. 

The online population of the world has significantly grown.  It is very unfortunate that the gap is too large between poor and rich.  For instance, the United States has one-half of the world’s online population, but the United States population is only 4.5% of the world’s population.  The Asian population has 1% access to the Internet; in the United States almost 40% of the population has Internet access.  Opportunity is not available to all nations equally, even to trade stock or to buy investments through the Internet. 

Worldwide, technological research is at an all-time high, but unfortunately, a big portion of this advancement is in the field of weapons of mass destruction, annihilation of human race, and creating viruses and diseases against which current antibiotics don’t work.  Even computer viruses are created by the companies for their own software not to work to force people to buy their next-generation software.

Aid providers should not dominate or impose their religion on children born free, who have the right to choose their own.  Children are bought and sold and deprived from their birthright of practicing the religion of their ancestors.  The communities are geared to donate money for the worthy cause, but the monies are not spent for the cause asked for. 

When an earthquake strikes, it strikes without warning, and U.N. disaster relief agencies have no choice other than to rush in as quickly as they can after the disaster has struck.  Certain other disasters, however, such as seasonal floods and droughts, can be predicted days or even months in advance.  Disaster relief agencies should move with relief into the area in anticipation of the trouble instead of waiting for people to die before coming over.

Other topics brought up in the workshops included possession of land, forest fires, clean energy, cheap energy, social movement organizations, economic and social justice, and  the rights of women, children and the elderly.

The Millennium Forum had 1350 invitees, of which about 75 were Muslims representing about 40 Muslim organizations.  The participants came as invitees, and many had come with U.N. financial assistance.  In the evenings World Muslim Congress’s representatives,  Dr. Malik Khan and Capt. Shaheen Khalid Butt, hosted get-togethers in restaurants for the Muslim organizations to introduce themselves to one another and get to know one another.  Everyone was asked to introduce and express himself and make his suggestion.  The spirit of old meetings conducted by Dr. Abdullah bin Omar Nasseef and the late Dr. Inamullah Khan came alive.  Brothers and sisters exchanged their visiting cards and email addresses so they may exchange ideas.

The leadership of the World Council of Muslim Communities has an open-arms policy for all faiths.  We observe and listen to all.  Our President and Secretary-General also oblige to accommodate everyone, so we do dialogue with everyone.  Historically, the World Council of Muslim Communities and World Muslim Congress have always taken the first step to carry the torch of peace, tranquility, equal opportunity, and justice for all, and practice accommodation, cooperation, and integrity where no one has reached before.