Jan 07 2011

US wants access to PNRs of all travelers to and from Pakistan

The US government has sought access to all Passenger Name Record (PNR) of air travelers between Pakistan and the rest of the world, according to a report in the local Express Tribune newspaper based on interviews with anonymous officials in Pakistan’s Foreign Office:

The proposed plan also includes the deployment of US homeland security officials at Pakistan’s airports for enhanced scrutiny of passengers travelling to America.

“Initially, they had asked for the record of all passengers travelling outside Pakistan,” the official was quoted as saying. “We resisted that idea and now they are asking for the record of passengers who travel to the US from Pakistan.”

…[A]nother official, who is privy to the discussions between the two countries on the issue…. said the US believes that the step would ensure Pakistani passengers have a “trouble-free” journey.

“But we believe this idea is highly intrusive,” the official said.

Pakistani citizens have been systematically harassed by the DHS since its creations, at borders and airports and through the “special registration” program for citizens of selected countries, which affected more Pakistanis than citizens of any other country.  So the idea that any Pakistani is likely to have a “trouble-free” trip to the US any time soon is a sick joke.

What’s more significant about this US request is that it shows the lack of any limits on US claims to extra-territorial (and extra-judicial) authority to monitor, record, and control all worldwide air travel, regardless of whether it involves US citizens, US-flag aircraft, US airports, or US airspace — and the centrality of PNR access rules to the US quest for global hegemony over travel permissions.