Prof to speak on global importance of Pakistan

By Henry Montgomery

Pakistan is a country easily overlooked when discussions of the Middle East arise, but with nuclear capabilities and links to terrorism it is a “hotspot” in the region, a UK professor said.

The rapidly growing country is the focus of a presentation by John Stempel, a professor in the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. His lecture is titled “Pakistan — At the Center of the Storm” and will be held tonight at 7 in room 249 in the Student Center.

Students Taking Action Globally and the Bluegrass Chapter of the United Nations Association are hosting the event, which is free to the public. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

Stempel said Americans should learn about Pakistan because of controversial issues surrounding the country.

Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s former-prime minister and then-candidate for the office was assassinated Dec. 27, and the country is now in a state of emergency, Stempel said. The county’s plans to hold free elections were put on hold since the assassination.

The current political situation and the possible presence of Osama bin Laden, who has been thought to be hiding in Pakistan, and other terrorist groups makes the region dangerous, Stempel said.

“Pakistan could be the next place terrorism breaks out,” he said.

Richard Mitchell, a member of the Bluegrass Chapter of the United Nations Association and a professor at UK’s College of Dentistry, said it is crucial for America to ally itself with Pakistan. The region also has the second largest Muslim population in the world, Mitchell said, and it is important for people across the world to learn more about the country and its culture.

As a former director of the Patterson School and a known expert on the region, Stempel is qualified to talk on the country and conflicts, Mitchell said.

The country and its problems are very complex, Mitchell said, and students and faculty members interested in the politics and the direction of the Middle East should attend the speech.