By Bytes for All ISLAMABAD, 08 March 2010
A six-member delegation of Pakistani parliamentarians from federally-administered tribal areas were invited to the United States for an official visit under the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP). All of the invited parliamentarians belonged to the troubled northern tribal areas of the country bordering Afghanistan, where War on terror is currently still taking place. The delegation was invited to talk in different states of the US about the plight of Pakistan’s tribal people and the impacts of the War on terror, and possible development projects in these areas.
The delegation arrived in the US on 28 February 2010 for a 15-day visit, and they were admitted without any body scans. As per the delegation leader, Senator Abbas Khan Afridi, US Embassy officials in Pakistan had assured them of no body scanns at any airport during their visit. The first week of activities during their visit was conducted as planned, however on 02 March, as the delegates were leaving for another state, security at the Washington airport insisted on body scans for the delegates.
Talking to different broadcasters in Pakistan, Senator Abbas Khan Afridi said that they refused when they were asked for a body-scan, as they consider it an insult to parliamentarians of a sovereign country. “We are canceling our trip to the US and leaving for Pakistan immediately. This goes against international protocols and also goes against our religious norms” he explained.
We consider this lack of faith by the US State Department prejudicial and an infringement of our privacy. We applaud the firm stance of the Pakistani parliamentarians and hope that the US administration will reconsider this “practice of insult” at various airports in the US.