Dawn : Pakistani students in UK

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pakistani students in UK

Dawn Editorial | April 29, 2009

‘Operation Pathway’ was perhaps destined for failure the moment the UK’s top counter-terrorism officer was photographed with files providing details of planned police raids on Pakistani students. The officer concerned was forced to resign and the police action, which had been in the works for months, was moved forward at short notice. The result: mass arrests but no solid evidence.

Even so, that did not stop UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown from crowing about how the police had foiled a major terrorist plot. What terrorist plot? There may have been one but we will never really know, will we, considering how badly the inquiry was bungled? Physical searches of flats and houses yielded nothing, and neither did scrutiny of seized computers. In the end, all charges were dropped but yet the students are not at liberty.

They have been remanded to the custody of the UK Border Agency pending their deportation. Can Mr Brown, who was in Pakistan the other day, answer this one simple question: what is their crime? Every single student rounded up by the police was in the UK on a valid visa. Not one shred of evidence that could stand up in court could be produced against any of the young men now in custody. Is this justice? No, it is not.

Britain’s civil liberties record is not spotless, particularly in its dealings with the IRA, but the country does stand out as a bastion of basic rights in the western world. Every country has the right to act decisively when it feels that its security interests are being threatened. The UK cannot be deprived of that privilege. But when it knows that it has made a mistake, the British government, and yes it’s prime minister, should have the decency to show remorse and apologise for the incarceration of Pakistani citizens whose only fault perhaps was that they weren’t white.

The UK needs to sort out its race issues. Racism in Britain is both institutional and in your face. Few middle-class persons of colour who spend any prolonged period of time in Great Britain can come away saying that they were not discriminated against in one way or another. This is an issue that Britain needs to address on an urgent basis. Meanwhile, teenagers of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin do not turn the other cheek at any given affront like their predecessors did.

The race riots of 2001 showed once and for all that there is now a generation of South Asians in Britain that will not simply cower and simper. But there is a downside to this dubious empowerment as well. Alienated from the mainstream, many Muslim Britons are more than willing to lend an ear to the obscurantists.

Dawn : Pakistan seeks early release of arrested students

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pakistan seeks early release of arrested students

By M. Ziauddin | April 28, 2009

LONDON: Pakistan’s High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan has appealed to the British government to release the 10 Pakistani students without further delay to undo the enormous damage done to their reputation.

At a press conference here on Monday, Mr Hasan said the UK security forces failed to find any evidence against the students who were arrested in dramatic circumstances and wrongly accused of hatching an ‘Easter Bomb Plot’ which turned out to be another embarrassing intelligence failure.

He vowed that Pakistan would take up the case of these students to the level of the High Court, House of Lords and even the European Court.

Mr Hasan said the UK authorities had failed to bring charges under anti-terrorism legislation and, therefore, it would be only right to release these students and they should be compensated monetarily for troubles they had been through. ‘They should be allowed to carry on studying at their respective universities.’

He said officials from the high commission were in touch with the students — currently being detained at Bradford, Manchester and Coventry — and had assured them of full assistance.

The HC regretted that Pakistan was initially kept in the dark about the nature of charges and proceedings of the probe despite many requests.

Four of the 10 students appealed against their arrest and detention on Friday, four launched appeals on Monday and the remaining will put up appeals on Tuesday.

It was made out in the media as if these students were to stage terrorist acts of huge proportions, he said. The innocent students were maligned. The media has been proven wrong and now it’s the moral duty of the media to vindicate Pakistan with the same amount of coverage, Mr Hasan demanded.

The high commissioner said Pakistan had high expectations from UKs well-known legal justice system and hoped these students would be allowed to complete their studies.

He said the British and American visa rules were the toughest in the world already and only a limited number of people were allowed entry into these countries after a stringent counter-checking process.

He said that of the 27,000 students who applied for student visas in legitimate British institutions, only 10,000 were given visas.

ABC (Australia) : UK sending more troops to Afghanistan

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

UK sending more troops to Afghanistan

by Emma Alberici | April 28, 2009

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has visited Afghanistan and Pakistan and outlined a new strategy for what he has called the "crucible of terrorism".

After talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Mr Brown announced a shift in the UK's strategy toward Afghanistan.

The plan mirrors that outlined by US President Barack Obama and involves greater focus on the border with Pakistan which the British Prime Minister described as a "crucible for terrorism" responsible for fostering up to three-quarters of terror threats faced by the UK.

Britain will send 900 extra troops in addition to $30 million worth of aid to help the Afghans with their election in August.

Daily Times : Zardari asks Brown to give Pakistani students fair chance

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zardari asks Brown to give Pakistani students fair chance

By Sajjad Malik | April 28, 2009

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday expressed concern over the recent arrest of ‘Pakistani students’ in Britain, and hoped that the students would be given a fair chance to defend the charges against them and allowed to complete their studies.

Zardari was talking to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who had called on the president. The two leaders discussed matters related to the regional situation, terrorism and bilateral ties.

Zardari acknowleged British support for Pakistan in the war on terror, and hoped that the strengthening of economic relations between the two countries would help Pakistan overcome its socio-economic problems.

Zardari called for the [international] community’s support in fighting terrorism and extremism. He said the government had the will to fight terrorism, but there were areas in which capabilities needed to be strengthened.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Privatisation Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, British High Commissioner in Islamabad Robert Brinkley and other senior British officials accompanying Brown.