Q&A: Shahzad's neither Pakistani, nor American. He's a terrorist
The botched Times Square bombing — and suspect Faisal Shahzad’s confession that he received terror training in his native Pakistan — has placed a spotlight on U.S. relations with the Middle Eastern country.
It also has Pakistani immigrants, 300,000 of whom live in Gotham, fearful about backlash. amNewYork spoke with Mohsin Zaheer, editor of the Brooklyn-based Pakistani newspaper Sada-E-Pakistan, about the tensions:
How has the city’s Pakistani community reacted to the plot?
Everybody is stunned so far. They had no idea this could happen amongst us. … Everybody is condemning it, even the religious leaders, the imams of the mosques. That’s not Islam.
Has Shahzad raised suspicion of American-Pakistanis?
There were community activists engaged since 9/11 to build bridges, between the community and the law enforcement and the policymakers and the public at large. And we believe that guy tried to bomb that bridge.
Are you worried about backlash?
People are a little bit worried that anybody could react or overreact, just by looking at them. [A Pakistani New Yorker] said yesterday he went to the store, and the salesman looked at his face and he said, Where are you from?
Pakistani Foreign Minister Rehman Malik yesterday told BBC that Shahzad is the responsibility of the U.S., because he is a citizen. Should the U.S. or Pakistan be blamed for his actions?
Although he was from Pakistan and although he was a naturalized U.S. citizen, I don’t believe that he’s American or he’s a Pakistani, he’s just a terrorist.
Then who can prevent such future attacks?
Terror is not just a threat to U.S., it’s a threat to Pakistan at the same time. Rather than playing the blame game or shifting responsibility from one to another, everybody should unite.
Pakistani militants and civilians are already weary of U.S. drones in their country and a war raging in neighboring Afghanistan. Does the Times Square incident hurt Pakistan and U.S. relations?
There’s going to be more pressure on the government of Pakistan from the U.S. side to do more, to go deep into the areas where this kind of people could be. … These demands were being made by the U.S. before, and now this incident. God forbid that this was a lethal attack.