PAKPAC Welcomes Decision to Repeal “The Fourteen Country Protocol”
Washington DC: The Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC) has welcomed the Obama Administration’s announcement to rescind “a misguided and hastily announced airport screening policy on January 3 rd after the Christmas Day failed bombing attempt by Nigerian Citizen Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.”
A PAKPAC statement adds: The flawed policy applied enhanced security screening for passengers traveling to and from 14 predominantly Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan, to the United States. It required all citizens of the world including US citizen who have traveled to and from these fourteen countries to undergo full-body pat-downs and inspection of carry-on luggage before boarding a plane. Today Obama Administration announced abandoning its policy of using nationality alone to determine which US-bound international air travelers should be subject to additional screening, and will instead select additionally screen passengers based on possible matches to intelligence information, including physical descriptions or a particular travel pattern.
“To improve air security PAKPAC has advocated to adopt a system, which is based on behavior and specific legitimate intelligence leads about a threat of attack, and not national origin, ethnicity or religion which results in profiling, civil rights violations, and the diversion of critical resources that our country needs to identify genuine threats to security. It maybe recalled that this policy led to a major embarrassment for State Department when last month a delegation of Senators from Pakistan on an official trip to USA refused to go through additional screening at Washington DC Reagan Airport.
“PAKPAC joins the Pakistani American community and other Civil Rights groups in hailing this positive step and following the recommendations that PAKPAC has had in public and private meetings with Obama Administration and US Legislators. On January 8 th in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano PAKPAC and a coalition of other civil rights groups requested that the policy be rescinded immediately. On January 19 th PAKPAC Board Members Amina Khan and Irfan Malik met with Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair and requested to rescind this policy due to lack of effectiveness to improve air travel safety. On January 27 th in a two-day meeting with senior officials of Department of Homeland Security, which included a meeting with Secretary Napolitano, PAKPAC and other civil rights groups reiterated their concerns and again requested rescinding the policy. Additionally PAKPAC met with officials from Transport Security Administration, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security advocating for change in TSA policy.
“PAKPAC Board Members Dr. Saud Anwar, Amina Khan, Parvez Shah, Shahid Tahir, Farooq Soomro, and Irfan Malik on various occasions made similar requests to over 14 US legislators to rescind this policy due to its lack of effectiveness to improve air travel safety. These legislators included, Senator Joe Lieberman, Chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee; Senator Mikulski; Senator Cardin; Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Chairperson House Homeland Security Committee; Congressman Cummings; Congressman Van Hollen; Congressman Ruppersberger; Congressman Sarbanes; Congressman Gary Peters; Congressman Andre Carson; Congressman Keith Ellison; Congressman Price; Congressman Courtney, and Congressman Chris Murphy.
“We are proud Americans and are proud that our Administration has heard our voices to go back to the basic and important American value of no profiling based on national origin' faith or rac,e” PAKPAC President Dr. Muhammed Suleman said. PAKPAC Executive Director Irfan Malik reiterated that this common sense approach will allow our law enforcement agencies to focus their limited resources on potential threats, rather than subjecting large numbers of innocent travelers to embarrassing secondary searches based on their national origin.
“PAKPAC ask the Pakistani-American community and all Americans to remain watchful about individuals and groups with any direct or indirect inclination of harming any American in any way. If anyone with suspicious behavior is identified they need to be reported to local authorities.”