To protest against the misbehavior by the American authorities at the Dallas Airport, nine officers of Pakistan Army have cancelled their visit the US CENTCOM.
These nine passenger were part of delegation of Pakistan Army led by a two-star general on their way to attend a meeting at US CENTCOM on the invitation of the US Department of Defense.
As members of this delegation had taken seveal flight on their way to the US CENTCOM, one of the members (a Brigadier) of the group said to its colleagues that he hope that this would be their last flight and they would reach their destination soon because he is too tired. One of the passengers on board United Airlines plane over heard the conversion out of context and misunderstood their intensions and thought that they might be terrorists.
He informed that to the crew of the plane who inturn asked the members of the delegation about it. Members of the Pakistan Army’s delegation explained to the airplane crew the whole context and told them that they are going for a meeting at the request of the US CENTCOM and the sentence overheard by the passenger of the United Airlines plane was said by a member because he felt tired after talking several flights. Flight attendant made irresponsible offending comments about this situation.
The head of the delegation, a two-star general of Pakistan Army asked the brigadier to cooperate with the TSA and brigadier disclosed his identity. Brigadier along with other members of the delegations were removed from the flight and detained for hours.
The leader of the Pakistani delegation showed TSA officials an invitation letter from the US CENTCOM, confirming that they were going to Tampa for a meeting. He also showed them all the passports that identified the delegation as senior military officers. There was no response for about 15-20 minutes and then the airline and security officials asked the entire delegation to get off the plane.
Pakistani officials showed them their passports and the invitation letter by the US CENTCOM but there was no response to that and “the delegation was detained for two hours, telling them nothing, not allowing them to talk to anyone,” a Pakistani official have told.
The head of the delegation asked Dallas Airport security officials to let him talk to a senior TSA official or the person in-charge of Dallas Airport’s security but his request was turned down. He asked the Airport security of the Dallas Airport to contact the US CENTCOM to confirm that they are visiting at the request of the department of defense of United States but Airport security “questioned the Pakistani delegation and misbehaved with them”.
After this situation delegation head decided to cancel the tour of US CENTCOM and informed authorities at home. Pakistan Army fully supported their decision and at that time US Department of Defense started to apologize to the delegation.
This is not an isolated incident as in United States it is becoming a habit of airport authorities to pullout the Pakistanis for security checks at airports and on flights. Even in last week there was an incident when a Pakistani couple was handcuffed and interrogated in San Francisco because a flight attendant on board American Airlines Flight 24 thought that two people who happened to be from Pakistan were acting suspiciously.
Earlier this year, a delegation of parliamentarians belonging to FATA reached the US under the international visitors’ leadership programme of the US embassy. US airport Officials asked the parliamentarians to undergo the “discriminatory body scanning”, which forced the lawmakers to cancel their trip.
This incident has created a major diplomatic row as Pakistanis think that US officials intently target the citizens of Pakistan which is discrimination.