Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
With one million Britons of Pakistani origin, and as the former colonial power, Britain has a unique relationship with Pakistan. But concerns about Britain’s vulnerability to bomb attacks planned by Pakistan-based militants — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that three-quarters of the most serious plots investigated by British authorities had links to al Qaeda in Pakistan — has made for a rocky relationship.
Irfan Husain, a columnist for Dawn newspaper who divides his time between Britain and Pakistan, writes that these tensions are being worsened by the problems Pakistanis have in obtaining visas to visit Britain.
“It is true that Pakistan is increasingly viewed as the epicentre of Islamic terrorism. Many plots, real and imaginary, have had their roots in the badlands of Fata (the Federally Administered Tribal Areas),” he writes. “Many young Brits of Pakistani descent have travelled to remote parts of the country to receive training in bomb-making. But the point is that these young men do not need visas to return to Bradford and Wolverhampton. Being born in Britain, they enter their country without let or hindrance.”
Among those denied entry were members of the Lahore Pipe Band hoping to take part in a world championship in Scotland, a trade delegation, a well-known columnist, and a guitarist.