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Pakistan in spotlight for wrong reasons

November 08, 2006

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LONDON, Nov 7: Pakistan and Pakistanis seem to be hitting the media headlines here on a daily basis and that too in a negative sense, spoiling all the good work that the government in Islamabad keeps claiming it is doing to promote the country’s soft image.

For three days in a row preceding last weekend, the media headlines here were riveted on a suspected honour killing episode in which a Pakistani had allegedly killed his wife and two daughters by setting his living quarters on fire. He also died later in hospital from burn injuries.

On Monday, Pakistan was once again the top story in the media here, this time a man of Indian origin and a convert, Dhiren Barot, is alleged to have scripted a meticulously researched idea for mass murder in Britain and then presented them to the Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan for approval.

And while Dhiren Barot was still the top story on Tuesday as he was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting to bomb key places in Britain and the United States, the media’s attention has also been gripped by a racially-loaded poem supposed to have been written by a Conservative councillor and would-be MP Ellenor Bland and circulated from her e-mail address.

The concluding verse of the poem says: "We (illegal immigrants) think UK darn good place. Too darn good for the white man race! If they no like us, they can scram. Got lots of room in Pakistan!”

The Liberal Democrats reported Ellenor Bland to the Commission for Racial Equality after obtaining a copy of the message. But Mrs Bland - who stood for parliament in Swansea East at the last election and was until Monday an approved Conservative candidate - told the media that it was `light-hearted’.

Asked why the poem singled out Pakistanis and turban-wearers and talked about the `white man race’ if it was not racist, she added: "I didn't write it . . . We do have friends of all kinds - we actually have German in-laws. And we have friends who are Asian. I wouldn't be rude to them."

The poem describes a migrant coming to Britain to live on benefits before inviting friends from his home country to join him, buying up the area after white residents move out and ‘breeding’ large families.

Forwarded under the words "Oh Yes! Ellie", it is titled "Illegal Immigrants Poem" and written in Pidgin English.

"Write to friends in motherland - Tell them 'come fast as you can'. They come in turbans and Ford trucks. I buy big house with welfare bucks," runs one verse.

"Soon we own the neighbourhood . . . We have hobby, its called breeding. Welfare pay for baby feeding."

Beneath the poem appear the words "Please, send this to every British taxpayer you know" and a cartoon of the white cliffs of Dover with the words "Piss off - we're full!" scrawled across them.

Mrs Bland insisted that the message had nothing to do with her political career. But a Conservative spokesman said they had suspended her from its approved candidates list and from the party pending a full investigation. He added: "The Conservative party disassociates itself entirely from the sentiments in this poem."