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Pak summons US envoy over watchlist

Islamabad, Dec. 28 (AP): Pakistan’s foreign minister summoned US ambassador Nancy Powell today to complain about a new US regulation requiring immigrants from Pakistan and about 19 other mainly Muslim nations to register with the government.

Foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri told Powell that his country felt a “deep sense of disappointment and concern over the inclusion of Pakistani nationals” in the US National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.

“It was conveyed to the US ambassador that while the government of Pakistan was aware of US concerns for its safety and security in the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy, the new measures were excessive and unnecessary,” the foreign ministry said in a press statement issued in Islamabad.

Kasuri said the US should “review its decision and take Pakistan off the list”, according to the statement. The inclusion of Pakistan on the registry list has created “unprecedented difficulties” for Pakistanis living in the US or travelling there, it said.

Pakistan once supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan but allied itself with the US in the war on terror following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Sources at the US embassy in Islamabad said Powell was called in for the meeting with Kasuri. Normally in such situations, US diplomats listen to a host country’s complaints and promise to pass them on to the state department, though they may also offer some explanation of controversial US policies.

The new regulation drew protests today from a group of Pakistani-Americans in New Jersey and other areas.

By the end of February, young men who recently arrived in the US from at least 20 nations will be required to submit fingerprints, photographs and interviews as part of the US government’s efforts to keep track of who is in the country.

The nations that come under the new system include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The registration, ordered by the US justice department, covers males 16 and older from those countries who arrived in the US before October 1. Failure to comply will result in immediate deportation.

US authorities this month detained several Pakistanis for visa violations, and the regulations have drawn harsh criticism in editorials in Pakistani newspapers.

Training foreign pupils

Colorado State University plans a workshop for international students after immigration officers arrested six West Asia men in Colorado for not taking enough college courses to satisfy their visa requirements. A student of the university was among the six arrested by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service over the past two weeks for enrolling in fewer than 12 hours of college credit.

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