American blacks with a Muslim affinity - despite being numerically small - have played a profound outsize role in the US. Two brothers, Hamza Abdullah and Husain Abdullah, are American blacks who put their glittering professional careers in jeopardy by leaving their respective teams in the National Football League to perform Hajj and, in doing so, captured the respect and attention of NBC-TV, which in a special “Rock Centre” programme saluted their piety and pilgrimage to Makkah.

So it was a unique experience to be asked by the eminent Gambia-born Professor Sulayman Nyang, Chair of African Studies, to address a select group of Ph.D. scholars and Masters students at Washington’s Howard University - the citadel of Afro-American learning in the US. The interactive session lasted well over two hours. Revealing was the fascination and admiration the African scholars had for Pakistan and its geopolitical stature.

Pakistanis are prone to belittle Pakistan and they do so without themselves taking the minimal small steps for self-improvement like showing the courtesy to be on time for appointments and keeping one’s word. It was refreshing then to hear a corrective view from non-Pakistanis about Pakistan on an American campus.

It was Abraham Lincoln - the 16th President - who strove to abolish slavery. Lincoln prevailed just before he was assassinated in April 1865. The just-released movie, “Lincoln,” highlights his uphill legislative struggle.

His Afro-American successor, Barack Hussein Obama - the 44th President - celebrated his re-election along with his daughters in shopping at a bookstore in Arlington, Virginia, where he personally bought 15 children’s books. Book reading is something his mother had instilled in him.

Ricky Ponting, the most prolific Australian batsman after Sir Don Bradman, voluntarily stepped down, on the grounds that his performance was just not good enough to justify his place in the Australian side. Tell this to those office-holders in Pakistan, who, despite repeated dismal performances, feel no shame in clinging onto their chairs.

Meanwhile, amidst apathy, the plague of unfettered monetary greed and obscurantism continues to pollute and adulterate the land of the pure. One hears the constant excuse that an individual has too small a space to make much of a difference. But it is more a question of what you do with what you have. As Peter O’Toole said: “There are no small roles, only small actors.”

The biggest blockbuster in Indian cinema was “Sholay”, which was littered with megastars. But in it, an unknown actor, the Balochistan-born Amjad Khan, stamped his class with a performance so indelibly imprinted on cinegoers’ memory and imagination that, after so many years, nobody remembers much about who else starred in that movie.

Despite being hugely outnumbered and outgunned, the Palestinians remain at the centre of the global stage. The UN, by conferring non-member observer state status on Palestine, has, in effect, given it the platform to pursue war crime allegations against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Crucially, the UN vote divided America from much of the West.

It demonstrates the virtues of never giving up and the power of the human spirit, when it does not accept defeat.

The writer is an attorney-at-law and policy analyst based in Washington DC. He is the first Pakistani American member admitted to the US Supreme Court Bar. Email: mowahid@aol.com ,