Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Pakistani journalist penalized by dumb immigration system

Zahid Khan, 29, is a graduate student in the Global Business Journalism program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

I recommended him for the program after reviewing his application and interviewing him by telephone. He had solid journalism experience, an excellent academic record and an impressive personal essay.

Zahid had worked for the U.S. government in his native Pakistan for two years. He was a reporter for its news and information agency, Voice of America.  He traveled to Afghanistan on assignment more than once.

Wins fellowship to Penn

He won a fellowship to study in the master's program at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, but there was a problem.  His former employer, the U.S. government, whose image he had helped promote in Pakistan, one of our key allies in the war on terrorism, denied him a visa.

No reason was given. So one is left to speculate.

One possibility is that he has been caught like a dolphin in a tuna net, that our skittish anti-terrorism authorities netted him by mistake. It could be that he is of the gender, age, marital status (single) and nationality that fits a particular profile considered risky. Young males trying to immigrate from Muslim countries attract special scrutiny. But we will never know.

In the meantime, he is working for me as a teaching assistant in the Multimedia Business Journalism course. Cindy and I took him to dinner the other night. He is a smart, talented young man, and he will get his graduate degree in journalism from a Chinese university, not a U.S. one.

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