EX-Pakistani minister condemns US security checks


Islamabad : Former Pakistani Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman has condemned the new set of screening regulations by the US Transportation Security Administration.

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The guidelines, issued following a failed terrorist bid on a US airline on Christmas Eve, classify the citizens of Pakistan as one of the 14 nations subjected to special scrutiny including pat-down searches and inspection of all their belongings.

While submitting an adjournment motion on the subject for debate in the National Assembly, Sherry Rehman said that these regulations not only violate fundamental human entitlements and right to privacy, these would also cause discomfort to the US-bound passengers.

“The new set of security regulations are discretionary and unfair as well as counterproductive. They also violate Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that prevents “distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

MNA Sherry Rehman questioned the US move to classify Pakistan as part of the “countries of interest” when the person accused of plotting to blow up US-bound airline from Amsterdam was neither of Pakistani origin, nor did he have any links with Pakistan.

“Pakistan has been maintaining extensive cooperation with the US and other international allies in the global war on terrorism. The spate of terrorist attacks following our cooperation with the allied forces post 9/11 has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. During the first eleven months of 2009 alone, Pakistan lost 2,691 citizens in 2,423 terrorist attacks. Additionally, 6,557 citizens were injured. The annual loss of $8bn to our economy due to terrorism amounts to 5% of our GDP.”

She said the latest US security measures are an insult for a nation that has suffered for a decade at the hands of terrorists as well as because of the non-cooperation of our allies to back us in our fight against terrorism.”

Sherry Rehman warned that the latest security measures by the US amount to racial profiling and will only deepen the existing divide between Muslim and non-Muslim countries.

“These steps will contribute towards growing Muslim resentment against US policies across the globe. It is also important to note that the earlier failed attacks on international airlines were carried out by the citizens of Britain and other European countries. The regulations not only unjustifiably cause discomfort to innocent passengers, they also allow space for terrorists to manipulate their way to carry out further acts of terrorism.

Sherry Rehman said that the failed attempt on the Christmas Eve exposed the vulnerabilities in the US surveillance system.