The Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take steps over the next month for the release and repatriation of Pakistani citizens detained at a jail at the US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan.
A lawyer representing the ministry told the court that a written copy of its previous orders about confirming the nationalities of the prisoners had not reached the ministry.
Justice Muhammad Khalid Mahmood Khan expressed dismay, saying the ministry had done nothing for the detainees. He said that they had been held without charge for years and their own government had abandoned them.
The lawyer representing the ministry said the government would make serious efforts for the release of the Pakistani citizens once their nationality was confirmed.
On behalf of the petitioner, Barrister Sarah Belal said that there was a three-step process for bringing home these detainees. First their nationality must be confirmed, then humanitarian and security assurances must be provided on behalf of the detainees, and then they would be repatriated.
The judge said it was a shame that a non-profit law firm was doing more for these Pakistanis than the government.
At Belal’s request, the court allowed the addition of two more detainees to the petition.
The judge adjourned the case till June 30.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2012.