Security agencies holding 700 over terror links: Irfan Qadir

By AFP
Published: January 24, 2013

Qadir said none of the suspects could be freed until the end of operations in the tribal belt, and declined to say how long they had been in custody. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Attorney General Irfan Qadir on Thursday disclosed for the first time that security agencies are holding at least 700 people indefinitely without trial in connection with the “war on terror”.

Qadir told the Supreme Court the suspects were arrested in the semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt, where the army has been fighting militants for around a decade.

He said none of the suspects could be freed until the end of operations in the tribal belt, and declined to say how long they had been in custody.

“There are about 700 people detained in the tribal areas and they cannot be released until the ongoing military operation in those regions concludes,” Qadir told the court.

“The detained men can be handed over to authorities only after the operation is halted in the tribal regions.”

The Supreme Court is investigating the fate of seven Adiala prison inmates who have been held without trial since 2007 even though a judge ordered their release in May 2010.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said the seven suspects must be put on trial and holding them indefinitely violated their human rights.

“These people cannot be kept in illegal custody for an indefinite period because it is against the constitution and basic fundamental rights,” he said.

“We don’t say you should release them… we want you to try them in accordance with the law,” he added, adjourning the case until January 28.

The seven men who were arrested in the tribal belt in November 2007 disappeared after their release was ordered in 2010.

In February 2012 the Supreme Court forced the ISI and Military Intelligence to produce the men in court — an unprecedented move.

The men were in poor health, barely able to stand or talk, and they remain in custody to this day. There were originally 11 detainees in the case but the court was told that four of them died.

Last month, Amnesty International said that Pakistan Army had arbitrarily detained thousands for long periods with little or no access to due process.

A spokesman for the military rejected the allegations as a “pack of lies”.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Pakistani
    Jan 24, 2013 - 2:57PM

    Pakistan’s judicial body is in-action. Way to go!

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  • Polpot
    Jan 24, 2013 - 3:26PM

    “Attorney General Irfan Qadir on Thursday disclosed for the first time that security agencies are holding at least 700 people indefinitely without trial in connection with the “war on terror”.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    And Pakistan is a land where Law is scrupulously adhered to.

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  • Nadir
    Jan 24, 2013 - 3:32PM

    How can these claims be a “pack of lies” when they are admitting to holding 700 people indefinitely?

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  • kHaN
    Jan 24, 2013 - 3:35PM

    By now, the rest of Pakistanis might have known that why there’s so much hate towards the state in Tribal areas. There’s a dirty game going on in FATA and we simply don’t care because it doesn’t get much of the Pakistani media attention. Even when the world media reports something similar, we shrug it off saying it’s a western conspiracy to malign the name of our sacred military. Who knows how many of these 700 (could be the least of the original figure) have no links with the militants at all?

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  • Iffi Jiggar
    Jan 24, 2013 - 4:09PM

    It is my request to the Supreme Court that atleast held them until election. Most of them were arrest in laal Masjid Operation and in Swat Operation and releasing them before elections is just like another action to sabotage the elections by these elements.

    @kHaN Many of the people belong from Punjab as well so kindly stop playing the victim card. In Laal Masjid Operation alone more than 100 people from Punjab were held alone. But it is not a great game or a hatred but the fact is that no one dared to testify against them in courts and then the court have to set these elements free as Security agencies cannot testify against these individuals. I am pretty sure you must be living in Some foreign country and then chanting these slogans of freedom. Kindly visit in Pakistan and see the situation and then comment .Recommend

  • Liberal
    Jan 24, 2013 - 4:48PM

    We should continue the war on terror till the US wants us doing so even if we have to detain 700 thousand people.. Otherwise we will be thrown back to the Stone Age. (Editors please do not censor this)

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  • Adeel
    Jan 24, 2013 - 4:53PM

    @Iffi Jiggar:
    Then we need to update our procedural law to allow for witnesses to anonymously (known to the judge alone) testify against a perpetrator of crime, instead of locking up people for indefinite periods without trials.

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  • Modi
    Jan 24, 2013 - 4:58PM

    @kHaN: Who knows how many of these 700 are Anti-state elements, paid agents, hitmen, the list goes on.
    And when terror strikes the same people like you questions the state ‘What our agencies/forces are doing?’
    We never appreciate the role of our security forces, there sacrifices for the state, yet we donnot stand back when it comes to criticising them for such non-sense. Sitting on your desk and complaining about these things is quite easy my friend but those who fight out there for us with limited resources can only know the reality.

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  • Afzaal Khan
    Jan 24, 2013 - 6:08PM

    @Iffi Jiggar

    May be you should read the article which clearly says the detainees were taken into custody in tribal belt by military.

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  • Feroz
    Jan 24, 2013 - 6:19PM

    Basically what the Military is telling the Court is we are holding people against the Law and we are not going to release them. In Pakistan Military will do what it likes and the word Law and Court does not concern them. Neither COAS or DG ISI will accept any summons from the Courts of the country leave aside appear before them. Seems like the Court will have to go after Politicians but Military will serve itself, from Taxpayer funds of course.

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  • kHaN
    Jan 24, 2013 - 7:07PM

    @Iffi Jiggar, I know there a lot of missing persons from Punjab as well. Yet, it’s even worse in FATA and it happens there on daily basis.

    And, FYI, I live in Bacha Khan Chowk, Banaras, Karachi. You can meet at “Lal Pacha Gurh Ka Sharbat’ every evening. ;-)

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  • Dr.A. K.Tewari
    Jan 24, 2013 - 9:11PM

    @ jiggar , Your doubt is not baseless . The past record of CJ suggest that he has been soft towards the terrorists . Since the detenees have been arrested during Red star operation therefore they should be investigated properly so that their connection with terrorists and terror act can be established by the security agencies . Some of them may be misguided people even then they they should be released carefully with full precaution .

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  • janaan
    Jan 24, 2013 - 9:45PM

    @Feroz:
    yes thats what the military is saying straight out. these people are caught in the war zone. unless you call it otherwise. and thats the way it is on the battle field.

    CJ seems to be more worried about the fate of terrorists being held rather than sending them to gallows, NONE so far anyways…..and we talk about tackling these terrorists when the judiciary is not even prepared to even indict them. WHY is VIDEO or AUDIO or DNA not admissible in courts, which is the evidence available.

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  • mohajir
    Jan 25, 2013 - 1:46AM

    Instead of catching the big guys our army is just concentrating on arresting and torturing the small militants who have joined terror organisations out of poverty and joblessness in the tribal areas. These are the guys court wants let go off.

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