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Patrice Riemens on Thu, 20 Feb 2003 01:30:18 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Fwdfyi: Stories from the Urdu Press in New York]

>From theSarai Reader List. Long but worthwhile (immo).

----- Forwarded message from rehan ansari <rehanhasanansari {AT} yahoo.com> -----

To: reader-list {AT} sarai.net
Subject: [Reader-list] The Urdu Press in New York
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 09:03:08 -0800 (PST)

Dear friends,

Since September 11th, 2001 I have been reading the
Urdu press in the New York area (would you believe
that there are seven weeklies!), pitch stories and
translate them for Voices That Must Be Heard, a web
publication of the Independent Press Association.
(www.indypressny.org). Independent Press Association
is interested in issues of social justice in the
ethnic press on New York. Below are some of the
stories. I think you would be surprised by what is
carried in the Urdu press.

We never thought we would flee America
By M. R Farrukh, Pakistan Post, 8 January 2003.
Translated from Urdu by Rehan Ansari.
Plattsburgh, New York, a small town on the border of
Canada, was until recently unknown to Pakistanis
living in New York. Now it has become a familiar stop
along the route that many Pakistanis are taking as
they flee the United States for Canada. According to
immigration and refugee authorities in Montreal, 70
refugee claims were filed there this year. Last year,
only six claims were filed. The claimants are
overwhelmingly Pakistanis. Many of these Pakistanis
are business and homeowners in New York who are
leaving with only the belongings they can carry. 

Pakistan Post spoke with a number of families seeking
asylum in Canada. One, the head of a family of 7, said
that he had left Pakistan 30 years ago and simply does
not have the heart to go back, which is what he will
be made to do since he is staying in the United States
illegally. In another family, the husband is
undocumented but his wife and kids are not. They feel
their choice is to run or risk the husband being
indefinitely detained if he complies with the new
requirement and registers at the INS. A single mother
with two children, afraid because of her undocumented
status, is fleeing New York. Several other people were
issued deportation orders and attempted to enter
Canada as refugees, rather than face the prospect of
deportation to Pakistan. They said their deportation
orders were issued prior to September 11th, but that
they had no fears until the recent change in American
official attitudes. 

It was obvious that Canadian immigration officers were
startled and concerned to see so many Pakistanis.
However, according to Canadian refugee law, one is
allowed immediate entry into Canada if one claims
refugee status. They will later have to prove their
status before a judge. This reporter spoke with legal
experts who said that too many Pakistanis are filling
identical claims for refugee status and they must be
prepared to recount their individual circumstances for
fleeing the United States before a Canadian judge.
They must do so calmly and with confidence. 

The new registration requirements for Pakistanis are
giving people sleepless nights, and it seems that for
many the journey to Montreal by way of Plattsburgh, is
the solution for peace of mind. These days, the modest
immigration office at Plattsburgh, with its few
benches, is seeing a lot of activity. Entire families
of Pakistanis can be seen milling around as the head
of the household busies himself with registering a
refugee claim. This reporter met people who were from
Long Island, Westchester, Rochester and towns in
Connecticut and New Jersey. All these families fear
that things will get worse in the United States if
they stay.

This article appeared in Edition 47 of Voices That
Must Be Heard.

Translation ? 2002, IPA, all rights reserved. Included
by permisson of Pakistan Post.

Speakers at Brooklyn?s largest mosque consider
registration law
Sada-e-Pakistan NY, 30 January 2003. Translated from
Urdu by Rehan Ansari.
At Makki Masjid, Brooklyn`s largest and most prominent
mosque, located on Coney Island Avenue, many people
turned out to hear speakers discuss the registration

This event was unique in that it was the first time
that a non-religious meeting was held at the mosque.
The speakers included two Pakistani American
lawyers?Saleem Rizvi and Sajid Jafri. The event was
organized by the Pakistani Community Center. 

Rizvi said that if the registration process continues,
then many thousands of Pakistanis will be in danger of
deportation. He said people who are afraid of
registering are not afraid of arrest, they are afraid
deportation. This includes people who came here
illegally and those who are out-of-status.
Politicians, community leaders and the Pakistani
government should impress upon the Bush Administration
that those who register should risk deportation. In
Rizvi?s opinion, those who register and receive a
Notice To Appear will eventually face deportation when
they see a judge. 

Rizvi went on to say that there are administration
officials sympathetic to the Pakistani community.
There are also legal activists who we should all
support in the long legal battle that lies ahead. 

Imam Hafiz Sabir, in his sermon, said that previously,
people used to overflow the space and stand in the
street during Friday prayers. Now, people are afraid
of being seen at the mosque, and the entire first
floor of the mosque is empty during Friday prayers.
"It is sad that General Musharref has given the United
States the run of the place in Pakistan to pursue its
war on terrorism; but over here, it is the Pakistani
community that is suffering." He said that Mexican
President Vincente Fox demanded that Bush offer
amnesty to the estimated three million Mexicans living
in the United States. "Why can?t Musharref, given
Pakistan`s services to the United States, ask for
amnesty for Pakistanis living in the United States?"
asked Sabir. 

He also thanked Rana Saeed, Malik Jameel and Aziz Butt
for their presence at the INS office at the Federal
Building, and for giving moral support to the
Pakistanis registering there, as well as for providing
people standing in long lines in the cold with food
and tea.

Translation ? 2002, IPA, all rights reserved. Included
by permisson of Sada-e-Pakistan NY.

Public, political, religious and cultural life in
Pakistani Brooklyn
By Hamad Khan, News Pakistan, 25 December 2002.
Translated from Urdu by Rehan Ansari.
Brooklyn and Queens, but particularly Brooklyn, has a
flourishing Pakistani public, political, and religious
culture, but to describe it, one may very well have to
come up with a new sense of the public, the political,
the religious and the cultural. Organizations
mushroom, all headed by "leaders" of the Pakistani
community who claim the goal of "uniting the
community." What most of these organizations seem to
do is run advertisements. The advertisements praise to
the skies this or that Pakistani politician. Within
hours of the appointment of a new civilian prime
minister in Pakistan, his image was plastered all over
several local Urdu-language newspapers. 

I can only assume that this practice, by the myriad
organizations and their sponsors, is to curry favor
from politicians and other patrons near and far. Such
publicity goes hand in hand with public meetings
organized to pray for the success of the politician,
and such meetings engender further publicity for those
who attend and pray, as is painfully clear from the
subsequent editions of the Urdu papers. 

None of these public meetings are possible without
clergy, who lead the prayers. I wish this were
otherwise. I would hope that the Imam of Makki Masjid
in Brooklyn would realize that such practices make a
mockery of religion, and that he would consider
establishing a different tradition. While he?s
considering things, he might also choose not to
participate when people, particularly the wealthy,
make an ostentatious show of having public prayers for
their deceased. A short mention of the deceased at the
end of Friday prayers in the mosque should suffice. 

What is happening is that as these political
organizations flourish, many mosques are also being
established. The mosque administration committees
serve as immigration sponsors for the clergy. These
clerics, often from small towns in Pakistan, are
becoming indispensable for leading prayers, presiding
at circumcisions, and teaching the Quran to children.
These clerics, though physically present in the United
States, retain the habits of leading small and
struggling congregations in Pakistan. So, the clerics
are quite adept at fighting turf battles with the
clerics of other mosques. For example, no two of them
will agree on when the new moon of Ramzan is sighted.
They remain in their own worlds, not learning English,
not adapting to their new environment. No matter how
many years they stay here, they prefer to give their
sermons in Urdu and Punjabi. Perhaps they enjoy the
language as much as a Punjabi friend of mine, who says
that even when he is arguing with an English speaker
in English, he loves to curse in Punjabi because it?s
just more pleasurable! 

I wish that the clergy who reach these shores would
use the change in their environment to reflect on
themselves and not make fools of themselves and the
religion. They could begin by learning the language of
the land and not indulge in the old world habits of
fighting petty turf wars.

This article appeared in Edition 48 of Voices That
Must Be Heard.

Translation ? 2002, IPA, all rights reserved. Included
by permisson of News Pakistan.

Nirma, the courtesan, in New York
By Ifti Nasim, News Pakistan, 6 November 2002.
Translated from Urdu by Rehan Ansari.
Recently Nirma, a movie star from the Pakistani film
industry, performed a dance in New York that has
provoked the Pakistani community in all sorts of
interesting ways. Pakistani papers are carrying
headlines about the brazen nature of the dance, and
male columnists are falling over each other in

It is the sexual aggressiveness of Nirma?s dance that
has the Pakistani community chattering excitedly and
the columnists muttering negatively. Regardless of the
response, is a pleasure to see the community?s lively
response to a public event; since September 11th there
has been so much fear and anxiety. 

Some of the columnists? remarks reminds me of the
legend of the cleric who, while lecturing against
"brazen" women, described a scantily clad female form
in such great detail than an audience member wondered
when disapproval ended and approval began. As for the
disapproval of Nirma?s "aggressiveness," I am afraid
they must realize that Nirma?s dance is nothing
unusual, for New York or traditional South Asian art.
In New York there are many performers who play with
gender roles, and ideas of domination and

So what if Nirma, from Pakistan, has crossed sexual

The Persian roots of the name "Nirma" mean one who has
the qualities of both man and woman. Perhaps for the
males in the audience, Nirma appealed to their
feminine side?thus, the outrage. 

But why be upset with a performance so steeped in
tradition? In the epic love story from Punjab, "Heer
and Ranjha", still popular today, there is the couplet
in which Heer sings she has desired Ranjha for so long
that she has become him. 

I feel that Nirma has turned the tables on her male
audience. For a while now, we have been content to see
the woman be the dancer in films and on stage. She is
the spectacle. Nirma?s supremely confident dance in
New York made a spectacle of the men who are dancing
around in outrage.

This article appeared in Edition 42 of Voices That
Must Be Heard.

Translation ? 2002, IPA, all rights reserved. Included
by permisson of News Pakistan.

A Pakistani writes from an American jail
By Azeem M. Mian, Pakistan Post, 9 October 2002.
Translated from Urdu by Rehan Ansari.
A friend of the editors of Pakistan Post received a
letter from Zubair Hanafi, which has been forwarded to
me and I am including in this column. Zubair?s address
is the Brooklyn Detention Center. His prisoner number
is 67898053. The letter bears an Aug. 15 postmark,
meaning the letter has taken almost two months to get
to me. Let us hope that Zubair is safe, either
released in the United States or deported to Pakistan.
Zubair writes to Afaq, a man he doesn?t know: Dear
Sir, I know you are well connected in the community
and have contacts with the media. Perhaps you will be
able to get me help. I am from the Memon community of
Karachi and living legally in the US. I have a green
card. At 7:00am on 29th May the authorities raided my
apartment. They did not produce a warrant. They
arrested my brother Sajjad Ahmed, my roommate Ali
Reza, and myself. As they were leaving with us, my
neighbour Salahuddin Qureshi, unfortunately opened his
apartment door in response to the activity in the
corridor and they arrested him as well. Two of the men
have been already deported, I am still in detention. I
can be freed on bail. I have made phone calls to
people I know but nobody is stepping forward to help
me. Please tell my story in the media and to the many
organizations and please write to me to let me know if
you can help. I have written back to him but have not
received a phone call. I find myself upset with our
community leaders, who have their photographs taken
with the Pakistani ambassabor and visiting politicians
from Pakistan but make no moves to help those who are
in suffering terrible ordeals. I also possess the
legal papers of another case involving a
Pakistani-American. Ahsan ul Haq is in danger of
having his American citizenship revoked. Due to his
arrest after September 11th, his files have been
opened and combed for misstatements he made in his
application for naturalization. There are millions of
cases of naturalized citizens who, knowingly or
unknowingly, made false statements in their
application of citizenship. Since September 11th, it
is Pakistani-Americans and other Muslim-Americans who
are targeted. In the case of Ahsan ul Haq, he made his
way to California from Pakistan without a visa in
1984. He then applied for political asylum and was
denied in November 1985. His appeal was rejected in
1988. He received a letter demanding that he
"surrender" himself to the authorities. He did not and
applied for legal status under the agricultural
workers? program. It was accepted. He received his
green card and applied for citizenship in 1997, and
received it in 2000. His wife and children are also
American citizens. His arduous but not untypical
journey to American citizenship seemed to have ended.
He had a successful construction business and things
looked good. After September 11th, he was arrested for
false statements he made in his application for
naturalization. He had not revealed that he had been
rejected for legal status previously. Ahsan is now out
on bail but very worried. Ahsan?s case shows that even
Pakistanis who are naturalized Americans cannot be
secure. Their American citizenship can always be
investigated and revoked given the current political
circumstances. These circumstances are not affecting
any other community besides Pakistanis and other
Muslims. I am not arguing that Pakistanis and Muslims
should be allowed to get away with breaking the law,
just that the law be applied equally. Racial profiling
is also against the law. There are any number of
people of Mexican and Latin American origin, and from
India and Southern Europe who are not targeted, whose
naturalization files are not reopened. This is unfair,
particularly when not one Pakistani has been charged
with terrorism. I still hear of raids and arrests in
the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Houston, California and
Florida. Our Pakistani community leaders are not
organizing, and people are too afraid to speak up.
There is still no credible forum in the community,
where we can address the difficulties that Pakistanis
face now and will face in the future. This is a time
that tests our inner strength and conscience. 

This article appeared in Edition 37 of Voices That
Must Be Heard.

Translation ? 2002, IPA, all rights reserved. Included
by permisson of Pakistan Post.

The special relationship between America and Pakistan
By Ifti Nasim, News Pakistan, 25 September 2002.
Translated from Urdu by Rehan Ansari.
In one of her poems, Sylvia Plath talks of a foot that
was trapped in a black shoe for "thirty years, poor
and white, barely daring to breathe." That foot is
Pakistan, which has suffered for thirty years in the
black shoe of American-sponsored military

Similar American-bought black shoes have tramped over
civilians in Latin America as well. Ever since the era
of the Vietnam War American administrations have
comfortably supported military dictators around the
world. Such a policy allows them to wield influence in
a country through one client instead of dealing with a
multifarious public. 

Accordingly the current Administration is rolling out
the red carpet for General Pervez Musharraf of
Pakistan. The red carpet can be extravagant; Kitty
Kelley in her biography of Jackie Kennedy claims that
Field Marshal Ayub Khan (the famously handsome
American supported martial leader of Pakistan from
1958-68) had intimate relations with the First Lady.
But Musharraf be warned: that carpet is red with the
blood of Pakistani demagogues, who become irrelevant
to American foreign policy. 

General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq supported the American
sponsored war in Afghanistan against the Russians.
That was when Osama and the Taliban were designated
freedom fighters by the U.S. government. When the
Soviet Union withdrew, the Geneva Accords were signed,
and General Zia seemed to be pursuing an independent
policy in the region, he was assassinated. 

Afghanistan was a country abandoned by the United
States. Wealthy Osama and the Taliban took over
Afghanistan. Now a decade later, Osama and the Taliban
pursue objectives no longer in accordance with
American interests and are men with an American death

And Musharraf, who was a usurper and called so by U.S.
State Department officials when he staged a coup, is
now a key ally. 

As for the Pakistani public, they see their
constitution mangled by a dictator, a state whose
coffers are full of dollars, (the Pakistani rupee is
doing very well against the dollar). But they, the
public, continue to face chronic inflation and
unemployment. They also face war-like conditions with
India, something else that happens whenever a military
dictator comes to 
power in Pakistan. 

Iti Nasim is a well-known humorist, Urdu poet and
literary critic. 

This article appeared in Edition 35 of Voices That
Must Be Heard.

Translation ? 2002, IPA, all rights reserved. Included
by permisson of News Pakistan.

Pakistani Detainees Speak Out
Special to IPA - New York, 3 January 2002. English
"We are not criminals, but we are treated as such. We
do not even know what the future holds for us. We are
not certain whether we will ever be freed, deported or
remained jailed." 

The man being treated like a "criminal" is one of
about 200 Pakistanis being held on immigration
violations in the Passaic County Jail in Paterson, New
Jersey. For the first time, civil liberties and
immigration lawyers say, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) is selectively enforcing
its laws, not to control immigration but to pursue a
criminal investigation. Nor are the laws enforced
always so clear. 

"The judges are not judges anymore," basing decisions
on their judgment of the law, says Sarah Hogarth,
director of the National Lawyers Guild?s 9/11 project.
"They are just taking instructions from the INS."
Judges who do make their own decisions, reports the
New Jersey Law Journal, may find their decisions
overturned by the INS or Justice Department. 

"We?re seeing the strictist?overly strict?application
of INS laws to keep people detained," said Claudia
Slovinsky, Esq., an immigration lawyer who is
representing several detainees. 

"Immigration statutes are the mechanism used to hold
people while [the US government] performs terrorism
investigations," said Manny Vargas, Esq. Vargas is a
lawyer with the Immigrant Defense Project, New York
State Defenders Association. He explained that this
development is particularly dangerous because, while
the criminal justice system guarantees rights to those
accused of crimes?"especially the right to counsel,"
those rights "are not particularly attached to
immigration proceedings," he said. 

Detainees are brought into closed hearings in full leg
irons with hands shackled to their waist, report their
lawyers. Guards unshackle a hand only to allow a
prisoner to take an oath. Conditions in the cells are
even worse, report detainees. A man held in the
federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn told
his paralegal they suffer from 23 hour lockdown,
lights blaring at all hours, no toilet paper, full
strip searches, verbal abuse from guards?The Paterson
detainee asks, "Why me?" 

"There are around 2 million Mexicans and others who
can be arrested on the same grounds." he said. "It
must be because I am a Muslim." 

Some immigration lawyers agree. Many of those detained
have been picked up on the authority of anonymous FBI
tips, Claudia Slovinsky said. She called the
detentions "racial profiling." 

The detained man also feels abandoned by his own
country, charging that the Pakistani consul neglects
his countrymen who languish in American prisons. [In
an interview with the New York Times on December 20,
the Pakistani vice consul reports visiting detainees
but admits being "in the dark" on about 100 cases.] 

Consulates have enormous power to defend the rights of
their nationals, working with U.S. lawyers. With the
help of a paralegal, the Canadian consulate in
December pressured the INS to act on the case of a
Pakistani-Canadian doctor arrested for illegally
reentering the United States. Without consular
support, Pakistani nationals may face even more
trouble resolving their cases. 

As many as half of those in detention are in Pakistan,
according to U.S. Justice Department data analyzed by
Mae Cheng in Newsday on Dec. 17th. Of the 563 cases on
which the Justice Department released information,
Cheng counted 204 Pakistanis. 

"When I?m visiting, it does seem the largest country
is Pakistan," confirms Subhash Kateel of DRUM, a South
Asian advocacy group working with about 20 detainees
and their families. "The second seems to be Egypt and
the third seems to be India." 

Even three months after September 11th, the INS
continues to sweep largely South Asian neighborhoods
for immigration violations, says Kateel. South Asian
students here on H-1 visas are being visited and
interviewed by the FBI. 

"Neighborhoods like Midwood (in Brooklyn) have been
hit really hard, with the INS just picking people up.
Elmhurst and Flushing, Astoria, Paterson and Jersey
City too," says Kateel. 

Even little-known, or previously unenforced, laws are
now being cited as INS officials work more closely
with law enforcement officials to detain non-citizens,
say immigration lawyers. "For example, it?s little
known that non-citizens must report any change of
address within 10 days," said Vargas. 

With hundreds of people being detained, many without
legal counsel, overworked human rights and civil
liberties organizations recently met to better
coordinate their legal support for the detainees. In
mid-December, civil liberties groups held two
meetings, one in New Jersey and one in New York City
to plan their efforts. In attendance were lawyers and
others from The American Civil Liberties Union, Legal
Aid Society, Center for Constitutional Rights,
American Immigrant Lawyers Association, Coalition for
the Human Rights of Immigrants, National Lawyers
Guild, and Human Rights Education & Law Project
(HELP), a New Jersey group formed after September 11th
to provide legal support and advocacy for detainees. 

"Regionally we?re attempting to divvy up tasks amongst
the different legal organizations," says Hogarth of
NLG, who planned the New York meeting. "We want to
identify who?s in detention, see who doesn?t have
lawyers and refer them to one. We don?t have enough
lawyers so we also want to identify and train them,
and mentor them with more experienced lawyers." 

Detainees have the right to a lawyer, but they do not
have the right to a free lawyer, says Hogarth. That?s
why the organizations are referring detainees to
lawyers who will work for free. Because a detainee?s
access to a phone is severely limited, immigrants
should carry a lawyer?s phone number at all times so
they easily call for help. 

Two important hotlines are now in operation. Those
visited and questioned by the FBI can now call the
ACLU to secure a lawyer in the (212-344-3005 x226,
x224 or x240). At its hotline, HELP is accepting
collect calls from detention centers and connecting
detainees up with lawyers (973-676-5660). 

The lawyers? work is cut out for them, not the least
because the federal government is keeping two lists, a
public list and a secret one. MacDonald Scott, a legal
worker with the Coalition for the Human Rights of
Immigrants, encountered the list while representing
Shakir Ali Baloch, the Pakistani-Canadian doctor.
Scott found Dr. Baloch on the MDC prison roster one
day, and told his wife in Canada to fly down, only to
discover once she?d arrived that her husband had been
removed from the list. Dr. Baloch had not yet been
released, only made invisible by the secret list. 

"Families should know that when they call that they
might not be told," says Hogarth. "Also, if people are
looking for people, chances are they are in New
Jersey. HELP is maintaining lists of detainees in New
Jersey. They are a good place to call." 

The INS also moves detainees without warning, making
it difficult for lawyers and supporters to find them
again. "The legal community is running around," says
Hogarth of NLG. "We can?t even find our clients!"
Subhash Kateel of DRUM says their volunteers have lost
track of about 5 of the 20 detainees they have been
working with. 

Even minor violations of immigration law by those in
the country legally can lead to a prolonged detention
in the new post-September 11th world ? detentions
lasting two to three months. Abdul Sattar was taken
into custody with two roommates from his home on
Webster Venue in Brooklyn. Although his 1993
application for political asylum is under review, he
was nabbed because his work permit expired a few
months ago. He was held 48 days in the Passaic County
Jail before being released on bail on Nov. 19. 

"The majority of the Pakistanis detained in the
Paterson Prison are willing to be deported and return
to Pakistan. Yet they cannot because of the slow pace
of INS," says Sattar. 

After September 11, the INS extended the period of
time non-citizens can be held for questioning, and
permitted indefinite detention in "emergency"
situations. The INS also adopted a rule allowing it to
detain non-citizens even after an immigration judge
orders their release for lack of evidence. 

Moreover, all non-citizen detainees questioned in
connection with Sept. 11 must pass now an FBI security
clearance to be deported, even if they choose to
return to their native countries. This process is
delaying some people?s release from prison,
immigration lawyers say. 

And the federal government took on the power to
monitor the communication between a federal detainee
and his or her lawyer if the government believes their
discussion may support terrorism. 

The ACLU, NLG, Human Rights Watch, Council of
American-Islamic Relations and others have denounced
the new rules as subverting civil liberties and called
for the release of information on those in detention.
To date, the U.S. Attorney General has released only
the country of origin of certain detainees, not their
names, nor their location, nor the charges against
them, as these groups requested in court. In late
October, Human Rights Watch requested that the INS
release information on any medical screening or
support given Muhammad Butt, the Pakistani national
who died while in detention in a New Jersey jail. The
agency refused without a signature from the deceased
man on the grounds of protecting his privacy. 

Additional reporting by Huma Ali. 

This article appeared in Edition 3 of Voices That Must
Be Heard.

Included by permission of Special to IPA - New York.
Voices ? 2002, IPA, all rights reserved.

??Previously published at Voices That Must Be Heard (www.indypressny.org)
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