The expected deportation of Osama bin Laden’s family from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia has been delayed because their passports are not ready, their lawyer said on Wednesday.
The 12-member family, including Bin Laden’s three widows, eight children and one grandchild, had originally been due to leave overnight Tuesday. Two of the wives are Saudi nationals and the third is from Yemen.
Lawyer Muhammad Aamir told AFP they were expected to receive their passports later on Wednesday and may be able to leave for Saudi Arabia later in the day.
But a Saudi embassy official said they were still waiting for details from authorities in Pakistan.
“We are waiting to receive names of the family members from the interior ministry to proceed further in the matter,” the spokesman told AFP.
Meanwhile, Deputy Interior Minister Imtiaz Safdar Warraich said the authorities would complete the legal formalities for their removal “as early as possible” but could not put a timeframe on the deportation.
“We will follow the (court) decision and fulfill all legal procedures in this regard,” Warraich told AFP.
“The required documents are being prepared and it is being done swiftly. It is not just an issue of deportation, but also there is an issue of acceptance.”
Some security officials said the matter could linger on for days due to procedural issues.
A senior security official meanwhile said Pakistan was awaiting the green light from the Saudi and Yemeni governments for the deportation to proceed.
“No timeframe can be given at the moment,” he told AFP, adding that discussions were ongoing. “There is a kind of understanding but things need to be finalised.”
However, the family’s lawyer denied speculation that the authorities in Saudi Arabia and Yemen may be reluctant to accept them.
“This is not correct,” he said.
“They were scheduled to leave Pakistan for Saudi Arabia late Tuesday but the problem in completing their travel documents delayed the departure.”
Earlier this month, a court sentenced the widows and two of Bin Laden’s older daughters to 45 days’ detention on charges of illegal entry and residency in Pakistan and ordered their deportation as soon as possible. They completed the sentence on Tuesday, counting time already served since they were formally arrested on March 3.
Aamir said on Tuesday that Bin Laden’s youngest and reportedly favourite wife, Amal Abdulfattah, who is Yemeni, may be sent to Yemen with her five children.
Security officials have said that the whole family was initially expected to be flown to Saudi Arabia.
A number of Saudi diplomats have visited Pakistan in recent weeks to work out the details of the deportation, sources say.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2012.
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