14 Pakistanis released from US custody



RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: As many as 14 Pakistani prisoners detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and the Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, arrived at the Nur Khan Airbase on a US military airplane on Saturday, security sources told Dawn.

According to a statement issued by a legal aid firm that represents the family of some of the released prisoners, the Foreign Office confirmed that 14 men had arrived from Bagram on Saturday morning. The C-130 carrying the detainees and 23 security officials landed at about 10:45a.m, security sources said.

Sources said the prisoners included Mohammad Suleman (Muzaffargarh), Amanatullah (Jaranwala), Hafeezullah (Sibi), Saeed Mohammad, Mohammad Amin and Saifur Rehman (Nowshera), Amal Khan, Abdul Haleem (Mardan), Fazal Karim (Karachi), Saifullah (Kohat), Omer Ikram (Mohmand Agency), Fidaullah (Lakki Marwat) and Mohammad Zahir (Quetta).

Upon reaching the airbase, the prisoners were medically examined and their fingerprints recorded before they were handed over to the concerned law enforcement agency for further processing.

Sources said some of the prisoners were transported from the controversial US detention centre in Cuba to Bagram and then flown to Pakistan.

Two of the prisoners, Fazal Karim and Abdul Haleem, were transported to Karachi on a PIA flight at about 7:30 pm. Sindh police inspector Anwar Raza and sub-inspector Ilyas accompanied the two prisoners.

When contacted, a senior police officer said the prisoners would be kept in the high security prisons in their respective areas and would be released after security clearance was obtained.

Talking to Dawn, JPP Spokesperson Shahab Siddiqi confirmed that at least three of their clients; Abdul Haleem, Fazal Karim and Amanatullah, were among those who had been repatriated.

A JPP statement issued late on Saturday night stated that this was the largest ever batch of detainees to be flown in from Bagram. However, not everyone’s families had been informed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regarding their loved ones’ release, as has been the practice in the past whenever prisoners have been repatriated from Bagram.

Abdul Halim Saifullah, one of the men reportedly repatriated on Saturday, was picked up from Karachi. In 2006, the ICRC informed Saifullah’s family that he was being held at Bagram after which, the family began to receive letters from Saifullah but were not allowed to ask him details about his capture or confinement.

Fazal Karim is originally from the Swat valley, but his family settled in Karachi many years ago. Fazal was taken in 2003 and his family was not told by the ICRC until 2005 that he had been taken to Bagram.

Ammanatullah Ali had been in Bagram since 2003 and was picked up while on a trip to Iraq. His family had repeatedly lobbied the Foreign Ministry and the Detainee Review Board at Bagram for his release.



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