September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Title:Who can the community of Pakistanis living illegally in the United States turn to?
Blurb:The White House, the Congress, the army establishment in Pakistan are all projecting themselves as fighting the just war against terrorism. Meanwhile, it is the Pakistani community in the United States that is feeling persecuted, voiceless and abandoned.
Body:The White House, the Congress, the army establishment in Pakistan are all projecting themselves as fighting the just war against terrorism. Meanwhile, it is the Pakistani community in the United States that is feeling persecuted, voiceless and abandoned.
Since September 11th, the Pakistani community in the United States, in particular those who are undocumented, has been feeling isolated and depressed. It is ironic the American press is lauding Pakistan as a front-line state in the fight against terrorism. It is true that the Pakistani government has given unparalleled support in the fight against Al Qaeda. Pakistani authorities working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have arrested a number of militants, including Abu Zubaida, a top lieutenant of Bin Laden. They arrested Abu Zubaida in Faisalabad, Pakistan. The FBI later released a warning of further attacks on US soil based on their interrogation of Zubaida.
There have been five alerts issued by the FBI, since September 11th. The FBI is unable tell us specifics about the threats, except to say that financial institutions may be targets. After every alert, more Muslims, especially Pakistanis, are detained. We learn about these from our contacts in the community. Officially, the number of people arrested, and deported, remains a secret.
A few days ago, at a raid on a Pakistani family living in Queens, agents explained that the head of the household's name was somewhat similar to the name of a suspected terrorist! An officer present during the raid told the family that the authorities had every right to pursue any lead in the fight against terrorism. The officer also said that Pakistan is near the top of the State Department's list of states that sponsor terrorism; that is why they are arresting many Pakistanis.
In an address before the Pakistani community General Pervez Musharref, on a visit to the United States after September 11th, said that the assistance his government was providing to the United States was much appreciated and, therefore, U.S. leaders promised to be compassionate in dealing with Pakistanis living here.
This is not the truth. The Pakistani embassy has also put blinders on.
The people who do care and provide some source of comfort are those who protest in front of the Brooklyn Detention Center. There are more Americans belonging to civil liberties organizations present than people of Pakistani origin.
Recently, a high-ranking official from the Pakistani Embassy, referring to the poor turnout of Pakistanis at the demonstrations, made the irresponsible statement that if the Pakistani community itself will not show up then there is nothing that the government of Pakistan can do.
Pakistanis, whether undocumented or legal, are afraid to join these demonstrations. There are rumors in the community that attendance is not without risk, particularly if you are here illegally.
Times have changed in America. Prior to September 11th, undocumented immigrants could travel on planes throughout the United States without inhibition. Today, even legal immigrants feel nervous at airports.
What are we to do? The White House, the Congress, and the media praise General Musharref to the stars. After each cycle of praise for the General, ordinary Pakistanis living in the United States wait in their homes with dread.
The only break in the gloom was the pro-Palestinian rally in Washington, D.C. Speakers spoke out against terrorism. They also warned against victimizing Muslims living in the United States. It seems that such voices are finally being picked up by the mainstream media.