LAHORE – Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its embassy in Kabul have expressed their helplessness in getting released 18 Pakistanis illegally detained by US intelligence agencies at Bagram detention centre, a notorious American prison in Afghanistan, where US troops are reportedly committing worst human rights abuses against detainees.
Out of 18 Pakistanis, seven are those whose case is pending before the Lahore High Court for the last one year allegedly due to the delaying tactics on the part of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul.
On Tuesday, the LHC heard that Foreign Ministry was trying to linger on the matter by submitting old and allegedly false documents regarding Pakistani citizens detained at Bagram prison.
According to the documents submitted by Foreign Ministry, Pakistani embassy teams had visited Bagram prison to interview its detained citizens during 2009 and 2010.
“We have made fresh requests to the United State’s embassy for another visit to Bagram and also taking up the matter regularly with dealing officials in the US embassy through meetings with them as well as through emails,” a single page out of the documents reads.
This page is signed by Deputy Head of Mission, Mansoor Ahmad Khan.
Sadly, in the third paragraph of the same page, Pakistan’s embassy has shown its inability stating the matter would be decided by Washington.
“We are constantly pursuing US embassy in Kabul to transfer the custody of Pakistani detainees. But, the US embassy’s response remains that the decision has to be made by authorities in Washington, which is a ‘complicated’ process,” the page further reads.
Another document submitted by Pakistani embassy in Kabul in the Lahore High Court confirmed that 18 Pakistanis were detained in Bagram prison. These include Fazal Karim, Awwal Noor, Hamidullah, Sabil Sulaiman, Riaz, Abdul Kabir, Abdul Karim, Malik Jaan, Amanatulllah, Salah Mohammad, Amal Khan, Iftikhar Ahmad Wattoo, Shah Khalid, Bismillah, Abdul Haleem, Mohammad Sulaiman, Shoib Khan and another one whose name is not visible on the document.
The documents provide the details of only seven out of 18 citizens detained at Bagram prison for the last 10 years that where from they belonged and were kidnapped by CIA. These seven include Awwal Noor, Hameedullah Khan, Abdul Haleem, Fazal Karim, Amal Khan, Iftikhar Ahmad Wattoo and Younis Rehmatullah.
It may be termed as the apathy on the part of Pakistani embassy in Kabul and Ministry of Foreign Affairs that no information is available about other 11 detainees detained at Bagram prison other than their names. The rights activists are approaching the high-ups of Pakistan and officials of Bagram prison individually for the sake of details about the detainees but in vain.
During the course of proceedings on Tuesday before Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan, Barrister Sarah Bilal, counsel for seven petitioners, strongly opposing the documents and reply condemned the role of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its embassy in Kabul and termed the documents as false and old. She argued that ministry was providing old documents just to linger on the matter and to satisfy the families of seven detainees.
Barrister Sarah pointed out that ministry’s reply was a regurgitation of the information earlier provided to the court. The court had directed the ministry to send a delegation of Pakistan embassy in Kabul to visit seven Pakistanis detained at Bagram Air Base and to interview them. But the ministry failed to follow the directions and tried to mislead the court by filing copies of two letters sent to the US embassy in Kabul during the month of October, she added.
Agreeing with Sarah’s arguments Justice Khalid Mehmood also expressed dissatisfaction over the ministry’s reply and remarked that the ministry of foreign affairs filed a report which merely reiterated the American line of argument and was doing nothing practical to aid the safe repatriation of the Pakistani citizens from Bagram.
However, Justice Khan asked the lady counsel to file her written rejoinder and adjourned hearing till Jan 16.