In the last few days, we have witnessed a pseudo-nationalist hype in Pakistani media, newspaper columns and TV talk-shows alike, in which a matter of ‘great national honour’ (ghairat) was highlighted.
The matter pertained to the alleged insult of Pakistan parliamentarians at an airport in the USA. Many commentators and right wing hawks in Pakistani media and blogshere termed this incident as yet another evidence of an insult to our ‘ghairat’ by the USA. However, Rauf Klasra’s column in Daily Jang today provides a different version of the story which was so far successfully suppressed by the predominantly right wing Pakistani media.
Before we present Klasra’s article, here is the original news item:
FATA delegation says no to scanning at US airport, returns home
Updated at: 0800 PST, Sunday, March 07, 2010
LAHORE: A six-member delegation of the National Assembly and Senate returned to Pakistan in protest after refusing a body scan at the Dulles International Airport, located 40 kilometres west of Washington, Geo news exclusively reported on Saturday.
Talking to the channel, head of the delegation Senator Abbas Khan Afridi said they were asked for a body-scan but they refused, as they considered it an insult to parliamentarians of a sovereign country.
He said they were informed before their arrival in the US that they would not face any such discrimination during their visit.
The delegation had reached the US on February 28 for a 15-day visit.
Upon their arrival (deportation?) to Pakistan, the said parliamentarians then approached the Senate of Pakistan to protest against what they termed as discriminatory treatment at the US Airport:
Discriminatory body screening at US airports: FATA MPs approach Senate with a resolution
By Iqbal Choudhry
ISLAMABAD: In a bid to press the US authorities to relinquish discriminatory body scanning, parliamentarians belonging to FATA submitted a joint resolution before the Senate parliamentary secretary on Tuesday to take the issue in both houses.
“We submitted a joint resolution against the US law for body scanning, particularly for Pakistanis,” Senator Hafiz Abdur Rasheed told Daily Times.
Rasheed expressed anger over the US authorities’ attitude towards local parliamentarians and said he would take up the issue at the highest level.
A parliamentary delegation led by Senator Abbas Afridi went to the US on an invitation by the US State Department. However, officials at the airport asked the parliamentarians to undergo the “routine body scanning process”, which angered the lawmakers and they cancelled their trip.
The delegation comprised Senator Hafiz Muhammad Rasheed and MNAs Sajid Hussain Toori, Akhundzada Chattan, Jawad Khan and Kamran Khan.
It however appears that these parliamentarians were pre-informed about scanning procedures at place in airports before their visit to the USA:
Pre-informed: When contacted, US embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said, “We are sad about the decision of the parliamentarians. We told them before the visit that they would [have to] face the body scanning process”.
Also, it appears that their visit was kept secret (see Klasra’s column), without informing Pakistan’s foreign office:
According to sources, the FATA delegation had reached the US under the international visitors’ leadership programme of the US embassy. They did not inform the Foreign Office or the Pakistani mission in the US about the purpose of their visit.
How did some of our fellow bloggers respond to the whole issue. I copy paste below the first six comments from a thread at pkpolitics.com.
Point one: Oh so it was ‘OK’ for other Pakistanis to be scanned as long as they were promised not to have to go through it themselves.
Point 2: Now will these bayhayas have the ‘guts’ to ask the every American official that comes to Pakistan also be body-scanned? (I don’t think so!!!)
POSTED 1 WEEK AGO ON 07 MAR 2010 6:43 #
They have taken a brave stand over this issue….hats of for them..
POSTED 1 WEEK AGO ON 07 MAR 2010 6:46 #
Dear FATA parliamentarians,
It is an “insult” to all citizens “of a sovereign country” to go through “such discrimination”, not just parliamentarians.
POSTED 1 WEEK AGO ON 07 MAR 2010 6:47 #
this is known as deportation, but media is careful to not use the actual term of deportation
POSTED 1 WEEK AGO ON 07 MAR 2010 6:55 #
People of FATA have FREEDOM. They live with FREEDOM. They die for safeguarding this FREEDOM. They have like this for centuries.
People of FATA know the price, and respect of FREEDOM.
Pakistani people don’t. The slave mindset is still prevailing within Pakistani people.
POSTED 1 WEEK AGO ON 07 MAR 2010 8:15 #
I am trying not to lose my temper here but instead of appreciating their brave stand, you have to to talk rubbish! They took a stand against a country, who have been treating even high class official delegation like regular criminal. They never body search any of European delegations or Arabs but humilate mainly Asian countries. You should be proud of these people who belongs to one of the most underdeveloped areas of Pakistan with less then 10% literacy rate. Well done Afridi & co delegation! I am so proud of u.
As regards to the rights of a common pakistanis,….. Your common Pakistani can’t get their legal rights in their own country and they are treated like animals every day let alone “RIGHTS” on an American airport!!!!!
If u need those rights anyways then ask these spineless PM & President of Pakistan or the leader of the opposition Mr Ganga Shareef of Punjsb!!!!!!
Thank you for degrading their stance to “Deportation” ! Well Done!!!!
POSTED 1 WEEK AGO ON 07 MAR 2010 9:50 #
In contrast to the above anti-USA virus infested reaction, we also read this much composed response by Mr Mohammed Ali Jawaid in daily Dawn:
Unjustified protest by Fata MNAs
RECENTLY some people have shown resentment on being screened at US airports, and returned home in protest.
I do not think this hue and cry is justified at all.
We must realise that, unlike ours, other countries make laws and ensure their strict compliance too.
These Fata MNAs of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas knew fully well about scanning procedures prevalent at American airports since 9/11 and were amply briefed about also before their departure by the US embassy in Islamabad, a fact disclosed in ‘The New York Times’ (March 10).
They also knew beforehand that Pakistan is among the 14 countries, mostly Muslim, put under extra security surveillance recently by the US.
Now the question is, why did they not refuse before proceeding to the trip in the first place?
This refusal would have made them a greater hero. Their crying foul now, after spending a week in the US, where half of their colleagues are still partying, is nothing but an act to gain political mileage.
‘Rind ke rind rahe hath se jannat na gai’
Good thing is that our Foreign Office did not react on the issue adversely.
MOHAMMED ALI JAWAID
Finally, here is Rauf Klasra’s excellent op-ed, titled “Ghairat lobby phir jeet gai” (yet another victory of the ghairat lobby):