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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi frisked at US airport

Videos shared on Youtube showed Pakistan PM Abbasi adjusting his t-shirt after going through security checks at the John F Kennedy airport. Abbasi was reportedly was on a private visit to meet his ailing sister in the US.

world Updated: Mar 28, 2018 19:37 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.(Reuters File)

The security check that Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was subjected to during a visit to the US has nothing to do with deteriorating relations between Washington and Islamabad, officials here have said.

A spokesman for the premier told the media that Abbasi had to reportedly undergo a security check at a US airport in line with the normal procedure there.

In a video doing the rounds on social media, Abbasi is seen wearing a red polo shirt while he is checked by security personnel. He is seen carrying his luggage and a coat after clearing the check at New York’s JFK airport.

The local media reported Abbasi was on a private visit to the US to meet his ailing sister. He also met vice president Mike Pence.

The Express Tribune reported that Abbasi had travelled on his personal passport. “The PM is a simple man and doesn’t mind undergoing security checks as a citizen of Pakistan,” it quoted a source as saying.

An unnamed member of Abbasi’s family refuted reports in sections of the Indian media and told the Pakistani media: “He was on a private trip, so he went through the security check like all passengers.

“In the US, this involves taking off any clothing with metal, your jacket and your shoes when passing through the scanner. He was not strip searched, that’s complete nonsense.”

The family member added, “He was on a commercial flight, so he was travelling as a normal passenger and went through normal security procedures. When he went in September to the UN, it was an official trip and he was received by US security officials and escorted as per VIP protocol directly from the plane.”

Some quarters have criticised the security check and said it amounted to an indignity to holders of top offices.

Reports of Abbasi undergoing the security check came against the backdrop of speculation that the Trump administration might impose a ban or sanctions on certain individuals within the Pakistan government. The US recently announced sanctions on seven Pakistani companies over suspicions of their links to illegal nuclear trade.

Pakistani officials have said the video of Abbasi is being scrutinised and its authenticity is yet to be confirmed.

First Published: Mar 28, 2018 13:12 IST