US seeks to scan travellers at Pakistani airports

Monday, January 3, 2011

ISLAMABAD - The US has sought data of all passengers flying out from Pakistan and proposed to deploy American security officials at Pakistan’s airports to thwart terror attacks on its soil, a Pakistani Foreign Office official has revealed.

According to the official, Washington had been pushing Pakistan for months to give it access to the Passenger Name Record (PNR) - a manifest of passengers used by airlines and travel agency databases, the Express Tribune reported Monday.

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

“Initially, they had asked for the record of all passengers travelling outside Pakistan,” the official was quoted as saying. “We resisted that idea and now they are asking for the record of passengers who travel to the US from Pakistan.”

He said the US believes that the step would ensure Pakistani passengers have a “trouble-free” journey.

“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 issue.

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

If the proposal is accepted, it could not only compromise the privacy of the individuals but also “jeopardize” the national security, he added.

The official said that though Pakistan has been cooperating with the US to eliminate terror threats emanating from this region, yet there are “red lines” which the government cannot think of crossing over.

The Us authorities have included Pakistan in the list of those countries whose nationals have to undergo rigorous security checks at US airports. The recent proposal has come more than a year after a Pakistan-born US citizen was convicted for planting his explosive-laden SUV in New York City’s famous Times Square shopping centre in May 2009.

Filed under: Terrorism

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