Afridi speaks to SAMAA about his US visit
PTI leader and former minister of state Shehryar Afridi was stopped at the New York airport for secondary screening. The development has sparked a series of rumours and fake news that include a photograph of Afridi undergoing a stripped-down body search.
Speaking to SAMAA’s Abbas Shabir in New York, Afridi has said the enemies of Pakistan were behind the fake news.
The Pakistan embassy in Washington says Afridi went through secondary screening only briefly and was allowed to leave without any guarantee being sought or offered.
Shehryar Afridi is the chairman of the Parliamentary Special Committee on Kashmir. His visit to the US is part of Pakistan government efforts to promote the Kashmir cause, according to Afridi.
The rumours and fake news came when Afridi was asked to go through secondary screening at the New York airport.
One news report by journalist Azeem M Mian said Afridi was stopped at the airport for “over one hour” though he was travelling on the official passport. The report said Pakistan Consul General in New York Ayesha Ali had to go to the airport to deal with the situation.
The consul general would not comment about the incident, the report said.
Journalists Saleem Safi, meanwhile, tweeted a picture that showed Afridi being stripped at the airport for screening. The picture turned out to be photoshopped and Safi admitted to the faux pas, saying he had been played by “some forgers.”
Maleeha Shahid, the spokesperson at the Pakistan embassy, told journalists that as a first-time visitor Afridi was put through secondary screening briefly, but he was allowed to go without any delay.
The spokesperson said the Pakistani diplomatic mission did not give any guarantee nor was it sought.
Other reports say Pakistan’s mission in New York did confirm Afridi’s credentials after that he was allowed to leave.
Shehryar Afridi says the time it took him to go through the immigration and other checks was not unusual and the reports of him being held at the airport were “fake news”.
Speaking to SAMAA, he said the enemies of Pakistan were spreading fake news because they were unsettled by his US visit and mission, which was to promote the Kashmir cause.
“Fake news cannot deter me,” said the chairman Kashmir Committee.
He said every country has its rules and regulations that one needed to follow. Afridi said he did not like the idea of protocol officers waiting for him.
Shehryar Afridi was minister of state between 2018 and 2020. He moved from the ministry of interior to the frontier region and then to narcotics control. In September 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan removed him as minister of state.
In May 2020, he was appointed chairman Parliamentary Special Committee on Kashmir, a position held previously by JUIF’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman for several years.
Afridi first ran for the National Assembly from Kohat in the 2002 general election as an independent candidate. He could not win but secured a PTI ticket in the 2013 general elections and made it to the National Assembly.
In 2018, he was re-elected as a PTI candidate from Kohat.