The Karachi student, on a Fulbright scholarship to University of Chicago, was stopped at the Karachi airport, despite all his documents being complete and in order without being assigned any reason.
Whether the incident, not new, but highlighted now, conveys any meaning to the new Trump travel and immigration laws, was not known, but left to interpretation, and interesting matter for media analysis and TV talk shows.
Bringing the matter to public notice, a private TV channel said that Zia Hussain Syed spoke about agonizing moments, and seemed lost for words for he did not know what the future held for him. He did confess that it appeared administrative decision, rather than a policy matter.
He said he had just returned “with one suitcase not knowing this will happen. All my documents, souvenirs are there. He said he was learning to cope with living without all his belongings.
Syed, a Lahore University of Management Sciences alumnus, said that he had returned to Karachi in December last year for winter vacations, after completing his first semester at the University of Chicago.
Little did he know that just in a month his life would be overturned. On January 4, he was excited to return back to US but was unexpectedly stopped by the officials at Karachi airport despite having all the relevant documents.
Syed was pursuing a degree in Islamic Studies from University of Chicago’s Divinity School. He has also taken courses and studied Persian and Arabic and was focusing on Early Islamic Mysticism.
When asked about his choice of subject, he remarked that there is a dearth of Islamic scholarship in Pakistan. He is also the co-founder of Ravvish, a project which endeavours to build peace between different religions.
However, in the entire process he claims to be overwhelmed with the type of support he has received. His friends and professors from University of Chicago along with Fulbright officials have been very supportive. “People I barely knew before also reached out me,” he said.
Syed has been given an official leave of absence till the start of the new semester in September.