- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Pakistanis 'humiliated'

The Pakistan ambassador has denounced new rules that require many Pakistani citizens in the United States to be fingerprinted and photographed but urged Pakistanis to comply with the regulations.

Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi said the registration program, which began Monday, is an insult to a nation that is a key ally in the U.S. war against terrorism.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are the latest additions to a list compiled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that includes 18 other nations, as part of a U.S. effort to track potential terrorists and illegal immigrants. Most are predominately Muslim countries. Male citizens of those nations born on or before Jan. 13, 1987, are required to report to local INS offices before Feb. 21 to register under the new rules.

"Pakistan is a frontline ally of the U.S. in Operation Enduring Freedom," the ambassador said in an open letter to the Pakistani community in the United States. "It does not deserve to be humiliated by inclusion in such discriminatory lists."

Mr. Qazi said the inclusion of Pakistan on the list "sent shock waves through the law-abiding and peaceful Pakistani community in the United States, which has one of the lowest crime rates of all ethnic communities and has no links with terrorist organizations."

The ambassador posted his letter on the Pakistan Embassy Web site (www.pakistan-embassy.com) and held meetings recently with Pakistanis in Washington, Dallas and Houston.

He said he has protested Pakistan's inclusion on the list with officials at the State Department, National Security Council and the Justice Department, which oversees the INS.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri raised the issue with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell last week, he said.

"Until the time the U.S. side responds to our request to take Pakistan off the list, which appears improbable, it is essential that the embassy and the community work hand in hand to help the Pakistanis who will be undergoing registration," Mr. Qazi said.

He called on the INS to treat Pakistanis with "due dignity and respect during registration" and allow them to stay in the United States "without fear" if they are in the process of applying for resident visas.

At a meeting in Dallas on Monday, Mr. Qazi said he understood that "national security concerns of the U.S. are paramount, [but] measures taken to that effect should not jeopardize the livelihood and civil rights of peaceful and law-abiding Pakistanis."

Last week at a meeting in Washington, Mr. Qazi said he has pointed out to U.S. officials that the list is "essentially and effectively a list of Muslim countries, most of whom are allied with the U.S. in the war on terrorism."

The other countries on the list are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.


Russia's help needed

The U.S. ambassador to Russia is calling on Moscow to put economic pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program.

"We hope that Russia adopts a firmer position concerning Pyongyang," Ambassador Alexander Vershbow said yesterday, referring to the North Korean capital.

"Russia should put not only diplomatic but also economic pressure on Pyongyang," he said in an interview with the Itar-Tass news agency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to serve as a mediator with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.

Russia has blamed the United States for creating the latest crisis with the Stalinist state, even though North Korea has violated a promise not to pursue a nuclear weapons program.


A-Baki trade minister

Ecuador's former ambassador to the United States will become trade minister in the new government of President-elect Lucio Gutierrez.

Ivonne A-Baki served here from 1999 until last year, when she returned to Ecuador to campaign as one of 13 candidates in the October presidential election. Mrs. A-Baki, the Liberal Party candidate, gained only 1.76 percent of the vote and was eliminated in the first round of balloting.

She was Ecuador's first female ambassador to Washington.


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