=> ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has lodged a strong protest w -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

=> ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has lodged a strong protest w

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has lodged a strong protest with the United States against the manhandling of Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi in New York by the immigration authorities.

Taking strong exception to the incident, the Foreign Office Tuesday demanded of the US officials to let the noted social activist go. It said that hectic efforts were being made to resolve the issue.

In a strange move that shocked the Pakistani nation, the famous social worker’s passport and green card were confiscated by the US immigration authorities at the JFK Airport, New York.

The immigration officials interrogated him for over eight hours at the airport on January 9 and then took his passport.

Later, Edhi was allowed to enter the US but the passport had still not been returned to him. The man known as Pakistan’s “Mother Teresa”, has been instructed not to exit New York until further instructions.

The Foreign Office Spokesman, Muhammad Sadiq said that Edhi was the symbol of Pakistan and the government would strongly react if his passport not returned.

He said that February 20 was set for the checking of Edhi’s passport and green card but he wanted to come to Pakistan before that date. He said that Pakistan had also raised the issue of Edhi’s interrogation by the American government.

Edhi runs the largest social welfare network in Pakistan, and has offices in several countries, including the US, according to BBC.

Edhi Welfare Trust runs hundreds of ambulances, a helicopter ambulance, as well as homes for children, women the mentally ill and drug addicts.

It has run relief operations in Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus region, Eastern Europe and even the US, when it helped provide aid following the New Orleans hurricane of 2005.

Edhi told BBC that the officials of the Pakistani embassy and the US State Department were helping him to recover his confiscated passport.

“During the interrogation, they wanted to know why I travelled to the US so frequently,” he said.

“I told them about the nature of my work, but they did not understand. They also wanted to know as to why I was not living in the US despite having a green card,” he added.

Special Correspondent from New York adds: Pakistan’s renowned social worker Abdus Sattar Edhi said on Tuesday that media reports claiming that he was being deported from the United States were based on misunderstanding.

‘The US immigration service is not deporting me’, he told reporters in New York.

Infact, Edhi said that relevant authorities have assured him that his immigration process would be completed ahead of the scheduled date of February 20, he added. He said that the rumours about his being deported started after one of his organisation’s orphanages in Karachi was recently gutted.

When the Karachi authorities asked about his whereabouts, he said, they were told that he was held up in New York as his passport and Green Card had been kept by US immigration authorities and that led to the rumours about his deportation.

Source: The Nation
Date:1/30/2008