LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday expressed its displeasure over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s ‘unsatisfactory’ reply with regards to a petition seeking release and repatriation of seven Pakistani citizens detained at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan for five years.
As proceedings started, a standing counsel appeared before the court and stated that a representative of foreign office had visited Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and had reported that all seven Pakistani citizens were all right there.
This irked Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan highlighted the ministry’s failure in enforcing the rights of its own citizens and proactively securing their repatriation.
“If they had committed any offence bring them back to Pakistan and they will be tried under law of the land,” the judge remarked.
The judge added that the federal government had done nothing to redress the grievances of the petitioner and was taking a serious issue so lightly.
“Courts would ensure freedom of these people,” he said.
Barrister Sarah Belal, counsel for the petitioner, had earlier filed the statement of a Pakistani citizen Kamil Shah, who had been detained at Bagram for five years. She told the court that Shah confirmed practice of brutal torture on prisoners by US forces at the notorious jail.
She said Shah spent five years at Bagram and during that period Pakistani authorities had not taken notice of his case.
The petitioner counsel further added that Shah’s statements clearly demonstrated ministry’s lack of interest towards the detained Pakistanis.
The court adjourned hearing for a date to be fixed by LHC registrar’s office.
Belal, representing Sultana Noon of Reprieve in Pakistan, a UK-based NGO that works for prisoners’ rights, had earlier submitted that the seven Pakistanis had been detained at Bagram without charge or trial since 2003. She said they had been abducted from Pakistani territory.
She said that Awwal Khan, Hamidullah Khan, Abdul Haleem Saifullah, Fazal Karim, Amal Khan, Iftikhar Ahmad and Younas Rehmatullah had not been allowed access to lawyers or informed of the evidence against them. Belal said that some of the prisoners had been abused. One prisoner was seized two years ago at the age of 14. Another was not permitted to speak to his family for six years,” she added.
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