ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A tour of the United States arranged by the State Department to improve ties to Pakistani legislators ended in a public relations fiasco when the members of the group refused to submit to extra airport screening in Washington, and they are now being hailed as heroes on their return home.
“People should be thankful, you made them so proud,” said Hamid Mir, the host of a popular national talk show, during an interview in his studio on Tuesday with four of the six politicians, who railed against the security precautions at Ronald Reagan National Airport.
Meetings with the Obama administration’s top policy makers on Pakistan, including the president’s special representative, Richard C. Holbrooke, and visits to the Pentagon and the National Security Council, did not allay the anger the politicians said they felt at being asked to submit to a secondary screening on Sunday before boarding a flight to New Orleans. They declined to be screened and did not board the flight.
Pakistan is one of 14 mostly Muslim countries whose citizens must go through increased checks before they fly into the United States, a procedure mandated by the Obama administration in the wake of the failed attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up an airliner flying from the Netherlands to Detroit on Dec. 25.
The inclusion of Pakistan on the list was broadly criticized as an insult to a country that the United States calls an ally….