Pakistanis under the radar: US seeks access to traveller data

Published: January 3, 2011
Proposed plan includes deployment of American officials at Pakistan’s airports.

Proposed plan includes deployment of American officials at Pakistan’s airports.

ISLAMABAD: The United States has sought access to the records of all passengers flying from Pakistan’s airports in a proposal which Washington believes will help prevent terror suspects reaching its soil.

The proposed plan also includes the deployment of US homeland security officials at Pakistan’s airports for enhanced scrutiny of passengers travelling to America.

A senior Foreign Office official disclosed that Washington had been pushing Pakistan for months to give it access to the Passenger Name Record (PNR) – a travel record of passengers used by airlines and travel agency databases.

“Initially, they had asked for the record of all the passengers travelling outside Pakistan,” the official said. “We resisted that idea and now they are asking for the record of passengers who travel to the US from Pakistan,” he told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.

He said the US was also pushing the government to let its homeland security officials be stationed at Pakistan’s airports to stop any suspects from travelling to the US.

Washington believes this step would ensure Pakistani passengers have a ‘trouble-free’ journey.

Pakistan is among a number of countries whose nationals have to undergo rigorous security checks at US airports.

“The US government thinks allowing its officials to be deployed at Pakistan’s airports will stop this type of mistreatment,” said another official, who is privy to the discussions between the two countries on the subject.

“But we believe this idea is highly intrusive,” the official added.

If the proposal is accepted, it could not only compromise the privacy of the individuals but also ‘jeopardize’ the national security, he said.

Pakistan and the US have been closely cooperating with each other to eliminate terror threats emanating from this part of the world, yet there are ‘red lines’ which the government cannot think of crossing over, the official said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (53)

  • RizwanTKhan
    Jan 3, 2011 - 9:58AM

    This is very serious. People of Pakistan should never let our spineless govt give access to the terrorist American govt. This is entering the RED ZONE. I very strongly condemn this act.Recommend

  • Jeff Prager
    Jan 3, 2011 - 10:09AM

    I think we should get the names of all Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, Mossad, ISI, RAW, Saudi Intelligence, Shin Bet and NSA and make them all go through TSA radiation screenings every hour on the hour. That would keep the terrorists too busy to foment any more terror.Recommend

  • Robin
    Jan 3, 2011 - 10:46AM

    Thank you Uncle SamRecommend

  • vish
    Jan 3, 2011 - 11:46AM

    What if the same terrorist travels to Middle East / Europe and then he proceeds towards US?

    Uncle SAM is FoolRecommend

  • Syed+Farrukh+Hussain+Shah
    Jan 3, 2011 - 12:21PM

    Why america wishes so many dirty things…………We are not his servants….to hell with americans…americans are real terrorists…..Recommend

  • Kolb Rubenstein
    Jan 3, 2011 - 1:12PM

    “Washington believes this step would ensure Pakistani passengers have a ‘trouble-free’ journey.”. Hmm! Since when Washington started caring about “Pakistani passengers”?

    This also begs the question whether the existing system of advanced passenger notification is working. Airlines are required to transmit passenger details, that include passenger data and place of birth, to US Customs and Border Protection in advance ahead of the flight departure. Either the existing system is not working; not plausible. Or there is something else other than ensuring “trouble-free’ journey; more likely.

    These Nazi style tactics and modus operandi of US/Washington officials should be source of concern for the International Community.Recommend

  • Faisal Rais
    Jan 3, 2011 - 1:44PM

    What does America thinks of itself ? we are not your slaves and we will not give you any access to passengers data or airports. Pakistan should do to strip search of US official as they are the real terrorist. Just do the math how many civilians killed my Taliban and how many by US war on terror. Shame on You! Uncle Sam. Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Jan 3, 2011 - 3:58PM

    Beggers cannot be choosers !!!Recommend

  • Haris Chaudhry
    Jan 3, 2011 - 4:00PM

    You guys make me laugh (looking at comments about Pak’s sovereignty, honour, digntiy ) etc etc.
    When a sovereign nation survives on handouts from its western allies (read US) and has a begging bowl running from pillar to post and ends up in the lap of IMF and World Bank and has problems within and outside its borders for people that love blowing innocent people, then it is neither sovereign, nor dignified or honurable.

    It is akin to a maid telling its employers (sahib and begum sahiba) that she is too honourable to clean their house and must instead be paid her salary whilst she does not do as she is told by those that pay her. Get my point …?

    Beggars cant be choosers. So long as we are weak, economically, socially, politically and reliant on the handouts from our masters, they call the shots.

    Infact I am pleased that there will be extra security at the airports and that US homeland security officers might be deputed there. Imagine if another of our ‘honourable’ terrorist brother reaches US and blows up a building, how difficult it will be for the rest of the innocent Pakistanis who will suffer as a result.

    Our exports, our budgets, our aid, our military and its weapons, our industries and large part of our infrastructure has been bank rolled by the west and US. The foreign remittances that we are so reliant upon now also come from our brethren that live in the west, We are neither sovereign nor honourable. We are broken, destitute and corrupt.

    This patriotic misplaced jingoism does not suit us. Live in the reality please folks.


  • swami
    Jan 3, 2011 - 4:47PM

    my god.US is indirectly saying all the pakistanis are terrorists.Recommend

  • G.Din
    Jan 3, 2011 - 5:32PM

    America, for that matter any country in the world, has a sovereign right to spell conditions under which it will receive travelers from other countries. If you don’t like those conditions, just don’t travel to that country. All this humbug about so-called RED LINES. If you have red lines, so do others.
    Get rid of this ridiculous notion that just because you are an Islamic country, others should defer to you!Recommend

  • Mulla Toofhan
    Jan 3, 2011 - 5:39PM

    Pakistan is not the first and the only country who have been asked to submit a passenger name record PNR to US authority especially if you destination is US.
    I do believe that it helps in making travel to US easier.

    There few countries which have US immg. and custom in the Departure country. Travelling to US to visit family has never been an issue cause you are screened before hand and of course your passport makes a difference.Recommend

  • Jan 3, 2011 - 5:46PM

    Just stop travelling to the US if you dont like how they treat youRecommend

  • Ziad
    Jan 3, 2011 - 6:06PM

    I you don’t like to travel to US then don’t travel. Who cares about Pakistanis traveling to USA.Recommend

  • sohaib
    Jan 3, 2011 - 7:47PM

    The real terrorists are the worlds biggest so called democracies. US is one of them. Recommend

  • Evil Doer
    Jan 3, 2011 - 8:06PM

    I do not see any problem with that. They have every right to do that. Travelers from Canada to US has to fill out the ÄPI – Advance Passenger Information. If you are of South Asian/Middle Eastern decent, you are better off filling out the API in advance otherwise get ready for major scrutiny. I think, API, does help passing through the Home Land Security faster. Recommend

  • Waqqar
    Jan 3, 2011 - 8:10PM

    USA has similar kind homeland security deptt. in CANADA. If any body has travelled from canada to USA he knows better about it.

    I think itys better to see under our coller rather than to blame USA. So far all the terrorist plot in one or the other way linked with Pak Soil. Act of single person becomes shame for whole nation and then we have to face such types of treatments.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Jan 3, 2011 - 8:37PM

    US is well withing its rights to demand this. I dont understand why US has not banned traveling from Pakistan. Its not like US will be missing out on skilled labour from Pakistan.

    If you dont want to give your data of traveling to another country, DONT TRAVEL TO THAT COUNTRY!Recommend

  • Aamir+Ali
    Jan 3, 2011 - 8:54PM

    What a rubbish report. All passenger names/information is already provided to US authorities by airlines for flights to US by law starting long time back. The step of posting additional homeland security folk is rather useless as I recently went through Islamabad airport and the checks are already intrusive.

    Pakistan should only allow this step of posting homeland security officials IF US gives permission to fly direct from Pakistan to USA. Currently PIA does not have this permission and has to spent extra fuel in stopover in Manchester.Recommend

  • Amna
    Jan 3, 2011 - 8:54PM

    @Syed Nadir El Edroos: This isn’t that simple. If the US feels that way, they can stop giving visas or put a ban on allowing Pakistanis to enter the U.S. But the US does nto have any right to deploy people at Pakistani airports. Ridiculous. Think for yourself please, everything that the American government proposes is not right and does not make sense. Just because the Pakistani goevrnement is falling apart does not mean the American government makes all the sense.Recommend

  • Danish+S.
    Jan 3, 2011 - 9:28PM

    In that case they have similar checkpoints for all indian “skilled labor” coming to USA on H1-B visas. With all the visa fraud committed by a number of Indian owned local consultancies in the US and big name Indian consultancies (Satyam, Tata etc.) the honest H1-B employees from other parts of the world are suffering. Recommend

  • Danish+S.
    Jan 3, 2011 - 9:29PM

    In that case they SHOULD have similar checkpoints for all indian “skilled labor” coming to USA on H1-B visas. With all the visa fraud committed by a number of Indian owned local consultancies in the US and big name Indian consultancies (Satyam, Tata etc.) the honest H1-B employees from other parts of the world are suffering.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Jan 3, 2011 - 9:49PM


    Buddy, you are comparing Terrorism with Visa fraud? Lets even forget that companies from all over the world exploit loopholes in the system. Indians dont go and try to kill citizens in other countries. Just last year there were 3 Terrorist with Pakistani connection.

    H1-B visa is issued by Americans themselves. If they give the large chunk to Indians, meaning that they think we deserve it, how is it our fault?

    On another note, atleast we have companies like Satyam, TCS, Infosys, which can compete with giant MNCs, I am yet to hear of a single company of repute from Pakistan.

    If and when US asks for such data it is upto the GOI to decide upon it. Considering that Indian companies are embedded into the US system, India can take any decision it wants and face its consequences.Recommend

  • Ashutosh
    Jan 3, 2011 - 10:03PM

    Let US decide whom to track and whom not to …Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jan 3, 2011 - 10:07PM

    It’s about time. The common denominator in most terrorist attacks throughout the World is they either visited or come from Pakistan – that makes you a nexus for terrorism and tracking people is logical. It may not be politically correct and it might be embarrassing to some in Pakistan – but that’s what happens when a country becomes a haven for religious zealots who think they go to heaven when they blow people up. Recommend

  • Faiz
    Jan 3, 2011 - 10:11PM

    The day Pakistan can live without aid or any charity from other countries that Pakistanis should be allowed to be insulted. Pakistan should be insulted to live on charity not on this. Sadly, we are used to that. Grow up Pakistan. Stop focusing on wrong things. Recommend

  • Umair Mallick
    Jan 3, 2011 - 11:56PM

    It is unfortunate that some immature weird Indians are giving further bad name to India by making such uneducated half witted comments on this site. Of course this US demand is totally illegitimate. It appears as if these Americans are senseless, they still don’t understand that now even uneducated ordinary people worldwide have become well aware of their cheap tactics and their dirty games which have affected millions of lives worldwide.

    It is very unfortunate that some of the sold Pakistani politicians, establishment and the famous leadership of the country continues to play in the hands of US sponsored institutions and individuals. Unfortunately, this is happening in every country where American and Western Interests exist around the globe not only in Pakistan. I don’t see any need to repeat this saga.

    But I do feel that Pakistani leadership should wake up and strongly protect interests of the country and its people.Recommend

  • Danish+S.
    Jan 4, 2011 - 12:52AM

    You failed to get the point. I don’t know you personally but lets consider you’re an honest and talented worker but because of the wrong doings of a few (assuming you’re indian) indians you are subjected to added, not just scrutiny but humiliation. Would you tolerate it? Being a civilized person, I would think you wouldn’t, that too in your own home.
    By my comment I didn’t mean to disrespect my indians friends here, I just used that as an example. If US wants to safeguard it’s homeland they should do it on their soil. And not subject or intimidate other governments to tow their line. If they want to interrogate me flying in to US they have all the right in the world to do that at a US airport and I would be happy to go through all checks but doing that in Pakistan, I guess is asking for too much. And for those who say US has similar arrangements in Canada, well that doesn’t make it right, in my opinion.

    Oh as far as “US issuing H1 visas to indians because they deserve it” is concerned, well there’s a lot more to that and is a total different issue. And not having big companies in Pakistan has more to do with the way our country is run by our inept rulers than it is of anything else.Recommend

  • Ali Haider
    Jan 4, 2011 - 1:17AM

    Any govt. that takes this call, will go with it. Not acceptable at all.Recommend

  • G.Din
    Jan 4, 2011 - 2:51AM

    “…But the US does nto have any right to deploy people at Pakistani airports. Ridiculous.”
    Please consider the whole question calmly. US does not say it has a RIGHT to deploy people at Pakistani ports; it is seeking an agreement from Pakistan government to do so, because it has determined that it will help its own security. Pakistan government has every right not to agree to this, in which case no Pakistani can travel to US. The problem will go away if ALL Pakistanis boycott US. Come back and tell me how many actually do that. You are NOT doing any favours to US, you know.

    “…And not subject or intimidate other governments to tow their line. ”
    You don’t have to be intimidated, nor does your government, my friend. Is Venezuela, which constantly bad-mouths the US, intimidated by the US? Ah, now that is an unfair question. Venezuela is a sovereign country which stands on its own two legs; Pakistan only talks about its sovereignty when it has no control over vast territories within its geographical boundary where Universities of Terror are located and needs to constantly borrow crutches from Uncle Sam to exercise sovereignty where it can.Recommend

  • Jan 4, 2011 - 3:29AM

    It is very wise to be as cooperative as possible.
    Incase if there is a terror plot, Pakistan can come and say, we have complied with every step of the way.
    That way everybody is covered. I think it is in benefit of both Pakistan and the U.S. Recommend

  • some1
    Jan 4, 2011 - 5:47AM

    Maybe USA needs to keep an eye on its own frontiers where Christian fundamentalists are getting stronger by the day. I’m pretty confident that retributory justice whenever the time arrives, USA will be attacked by it’s own blood.Recommend

  • Ata ur Rahman
    Jan 4, 2011 - 6:30AM

    Please remove my name and address
    Ata ur RahmanRecommend

  • J.Oberoi
    Jan 4, 2011 - 7:13AM

    Don’t know if this will do the US any good. Terrorists are changing their names to ‘Headley’ and ‘Desai’ (the Christmas Bombers) to escape scrutiny. This becomes a lot easier if the security agencies cooperate. Recommend

  • J.Oberoi
    Jan 4, 2011 - 7:18AM

    @Amna, they are already doing that – in a discreet way. US Student visa applications are held up at the US consulates until the course begins and the students are asked to try again the next year since the course has already begun. The same thing repeats until the student gives up.Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Jan 4, 2011 - 11:36AM

    @ Danish+S.

    I accept your point but did you think why this is happening only for Pakistan and why US goes to such an extent ? Simple dear, Pakistan is a ticking time bomb and no leader in your country bothered about this, so US and the rest of the world cannot wait.Recommend

  • Cyko
    Jan 4, 2011 - 12:25PM

    OH yes !!! indians be prepare to get even more jealous !!! Pakistanis would soon get VOA facility after exchanging PNRs … Yahooo !!!Recommend

  • vasan
    Jan 4, 2011 - 1:07PM

    Yup;l For sure; Pakistan will soon get Visa On Arrival facility but to only one state of USA, Guantonomo bay;Recommend

  • faraz
    Jan 4, 2011 - 1:21PM

    Dont go to US if your “ghairat” is under threat. Recommend

  • ali
    Jan 4, 2011 - 1:44PM

    give us money we will do it.@faraz do u think that “ghairat” does exist in us?Recommend

  • Danish+S.
    Jan 4, 2011 - 8:07PM

    Well after reading about the incident this morning, I take my earlier comments back.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Jan 4, 2011 - 9:39PM

    “Would you tolerate it?”

    –> I would not. I would in protest by stop traveling to that country. I’d advice you to do the same if you feel the same way.

    Although, I’d not feel that way since saving a human life is more important than any imaginary “insult”. Recommend

  • Stephen
    Jan 4, 2011 - 10:59PM

    @ Vasan

    Sorry I don’t know you personally but serioulsy what a pathetic waste of your time and energy! Such views fail to build any bridges between the Pakistanis and Indians.

    @ All Pakistanis

    Serioulsy, if you don’t like the Yanks and their attitude – get a back bone and tell them to take a hike!! If you can’t, then stay beggars and at their mercy.

    Being an external onlooker, I honestly believe they need you way more than you think and probably they know!!

    And trust me, the feeling towards the US even in White, Infidel/Christian/Atheist Europe is probably as bad as the Believing parts of this world. Or those who have a conscience and not just bowing to all things mighty! Recommend

  • G.Din
    Jan 5, 2011 - 2:54AM

    @Stephen to vasan
    “…what a pathetic waste of your time and energy! Such views fail to build any bridges between the Pakistanis and Indians.”
    It is not a view but statement of facts as they are on ground.
    It is better not to build any bridges before we are sure that the only ones who will cross them are not terrorists to cause havoc in India, don’t you think?Recommend

  • vasan
    Jan 5, 2011 - 1:35PM

    G.din and Stephen:
    I am clear I dont want to build any bridge between Pakistan and india till I am certain that the religious bigotry and violent extremism currently prevailing in Pakistan is brought under control. and Pakistan’s rulers will listen to the silent peace seeking majority. To do this is Pakistan’s own problem and they need to spend money and energy on that. India has nothing to do with that. We are not rich enough to suffer any cost on that front.
    From the ground reality after the Punjab governors death, I am doubly certain that the smoke enveloping Pakistan is getting thicker and thicker. My time and energy can be spent on expressing my opinion clearly to keep the dangers away from my countrymen. It ET provides a channel to that, so be it. Stephen has a right to his opinion. I dont know which country he belongs to and I dont know whether he has an extremist neighbour or not. And he has a right to express his opinion as well
    thanks G Din, for ur supportRecommend

  • Umair Waheed Sheikh, Khayban e Hafiz,IBA Karachi
    Jan 5, 2011 - 2:42PM

    why are we so scared? If we are innocent then we must allow them and it would only help us when we disembark there. I think the people who would be most at loss would be the ASF( Airport Security Force) whose khappay would come to en end. I am all for it.Recommend

  • Abdul Mannan Lodhi
    Jan 5, 2011 - 10:46PM

    Americans have every right to find out as much as they can to make sure that intending visitor or immigrant to that country does not pose a threat to its security.But once the USA is satisfied and grnts viza to a Pakistani he should not be humiliated on US airports.It was really a shame to see members of a Pakistani delegoverment delegation with some cabinet members and Mps going through body dearches at the USA air ports.They should have protested and returned back without visit to that country.It was a pleasure when another such visitors from Pakistan refused to go through such humiliating treatment and returned back.
    I wish people from Pakistan behave honestly and faithfully in foreign countries.When we ask for viza we in fact give our word that we shall respect the laws of that country and will do no harm to it.Iy is unislamic and shameful that we dont keep our promise.We may differ with policies of the USA or Europe or any other country.But we must not betray the trust of others.It is unfortunate that our countrymen have been found involved in acts of terrorism.It brings only shame to us .Let us all refrain from such acts.Acts of innocent killing by individuals or states must be condemned by all.Recommend

  • lion
    Jan 5, 2011 - 11:02PM

    Beggers cannot be choosers !!!Recommend

  • Ashutosh
    Jan 6, 2011 - 10:46AM

    @Abdul Mannan Lodhi

    In the current situation where most of the terror acts finds its origin in AF-PAK region, so the populous from this area are likely to come under increased scrutiny.

    This is also in a small way for the world to protest that enough is not being done against such terror elements.Recommend

  • aahmed
    Jan 22, 2011 - 9:39PM

    Whoever does not like it should stop asking for US money.Recommend

  • Samad
    Jan 23, 2011 - 7:25PM

    They bodysearched Indian Ambassador in US Twice, India just keeps quite. Hahahaha

  • Khan
    Jan 26, 2011 - 10:50AM

    This article is a joke. US already has access to all Pakistani Passenger data via the PISCES system installed at all airports

    Check it out yourselves if you dont believe it:
    and proudly claimed by our Ministry of Interior:

  • Pradip Gadwali
    Jan 28, 2011 - 8:23AM

    @ Anoop : You have been commenting an extremely too much in a Pakistani newspaper; don’t you have anything else to do? I wonder if you spend 24 hours commenting in this daily.Recommend

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