September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Title:A Pakistani writes from an American jail
Author:Azeem M. Mian
Blurb:A friend of the editors of Pakistan Post received a letter from Zubair Hanafi, which has been forwarded to me and I am including in this column. The letter bears an Aug. 15 postmark, meaning the letter has taken almost two months to get to me. Let us hope that Zubair is safe, either released in the United States or deported to Pakistan.
Body:A friend of the editors of Pakistan Post received a letter from Zubair Hanafi, which has been forwarded to me and I am including in this column. Zubairs address is the Brooklyn Detention Center. His prisoner number is 67898053. The letter bears an Aug. 15 postmark, meaning the letter has taken almost two months to get to me. Let us hope that Zubair is safe, either released in the United States or deported to Pakistan.
Zubair writes to Afaq, a man he doesnt know:
i>Dear Sir, I know you are well connected in the community and have contacts with the media. Perhaps you will be able to get me help. I am from the Memon community of Karachi and living legally in the US. I have a green card. At 7:00am on 29th May the authorities raided my apartment. They did not produce a warrant. They arrested my brother Sajjad Ahmed, my roommate Ali Reza, and myself. As they were leaving with us, my neighbour Salahuddin Qureshi, unfortunately opened his apartment door in response to the activity in the corridor and they arrested him as well. Two of the men have been already deported, I am still in detention. I can be freed on bail. I have made phone calls to people I know but nobody is stepping forward to help me. Please tell my story in the media and to the many organizations and please write to me to let me know if you can help./i>
I have written back to him but have not received a phone call.
I find myself upset with our community leaders, who have their photographs taken with the Pakistani ambassabor and visiting politicians from Pakistan but make no moves to help those who are in suffering terrible ordeals.
I also possess the legal papers of another case involving a Pakistani-American. Ahsan ul Haq is in danger of having his American citizenship revoked. Due to his arrest after September 11th, his files have been opened and combed for misstatements he made in his application for naturalization. There are millions of cases of naturalized citizens who, knowingly or unknowingly, made false statements in their application of citizenship. Since September 11th, it is Pakistani-Americans and other Muslim-Americans who are targeted.
In the case of Ahsan ul Haq, he made his way to California from Pakistan without a visa in 1984. He then applied for political asylum and was denied in November 1985. His appeal was rejected in 1988. He received a letter demanding that he surrender himself to the authorities. He did not and applied for legal status under the agricultural workers program. It was accepted. He received his green card and applied for citizenship in 1997, and received it in 2000. His wife and children are also American citizens. His arduous but not untypical journey to American citizenship seemed to have ended. He had a successful construction business and things looked good.
After September 11th, he was arrested for false statements he made in his application for naturalization. He had not revealed that he had been rejected for legal status previously. Ahsan is now out on bail but very worried.
Ahsans case shows that even Pakistanis who are naturalized Americans cannot be secure. Their American citizenship can always be investigated and revoked given the current political circumstances. These circumstances are not affecting any other community besides Pakistanis and other Muslims.
I am not arguing that Pakistanis and Muslims should be allowed to get away with breaking the law, just that the law be applied equally. Racial profiling is also against the law.
There are any number of people of Mexican and Latin American origin, and from India and Southern Europe who are not targeted, whose naturalization files are not reopened. This is unfair, particularly when not one Pakistani has been charged with terrorism.
I still hear of raids and arrests in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Houston, California and Florida. Our Pakistani community leaders are not organizing, and6 people are too afraid to speak up. There is still no credible forum in the community, where we can address the difficulties that Pakistanis face now and will face in the future. This is a time that tests our inner strength and conscience.