Bagram facility: Pakistan to formally take up prisoners’ issue with Kabul

Afghan president unhappy with the US over the delay in transfer of prisoners.

Tahir Khan September 17, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Given the fact that the Bagram airbase has now been handed over to the Afghan authorities, Pakistan has decided to formally raise the issue of its prisoners at the detention facility with the Afghan government, officials revealed on Sunday.

Afghan sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that Pakistan is seeking repatriation of its prisoners who have been languishing at Bagram for years. But they were not sure if the US has so far handed over all Pakistani detainees at Bagram — located some 60 kilometres north of Kabul.

Sources privy to the development said that US officials have also handed over 53 foreign prisoners out of the nearly 3,000 prisoners to Afghan authorities, at the time of the transfer of the prison last week.

Sources said Afghan authorities are in the process of determining the identity of these foreigners.

Pakistan had previously raised the issue of its prisoners with Afghan authorities in Kabul but the Afghan government had asked Pakistan to wait until the prison is handed over to them.

“We understand that Pakistan will now formally take up the issue with the Afghan government,” an Afghan official said.

Controversy over prisoners

A controversy resurfaced on Sunday when Afghan President Hamid Karzai angrily reacted to the delay in the transfer of Afghan prisoners and considered it a “serious breach” of the MoU signed between Afghanistan and the US, the presidential palace said in a statement.

President Karzai met with US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman and his delegation in Kabul on Sunday and among the issues central to discussions were the recent handover of Bagram Prison to Afghan authorities and the transfer of over 600 Afghan inmates still held by the American forces.

“President Karzai described the delay in the inmates’ transfer, originally due on September 9 as part of the overall handover, a serious violation of the MoU signed six months ago between Afghanistan and the US,” a statement from the Afghan president’s office said.

Referring to the additional protocol II of the Geneva Convention used by the US as a governing basis that allows for an indefinite detention with no trial of the accused, the president stressed that the Afghan judicial authorities will express their views at the soonest on the compliance of the protocol with national laws as mentioned in the MoU, it said.

However, the continued detention of Afghans in American custody runs in contradiction with the spirit of mutual friendship and the provisions of the bilateral strategic partnership agreement, the statement said.

“The people of Afghanistan consider the issue of prisons and detention of their fellow citizens a matter of their national sovereignty”.

The meeting also discussed Afghanistan’s peace process and Pakistan’s role in peace efforts, the statement said.

The US embassy in Kabul was quick to respond to the harsh statement from the Afghan president and clarified its position.

“The US has transferred over 3,000 prisoners to the government of Afghanistan. We look forward to continued implementation of the MoU to which we are committed,” said the US embassy statement.

Meanwhile, Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Musazai said the timeframe for the handover of Bagram prison to the Afghan government has been completed and the Afghan government is fully prepared to take its responsibility.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2012.


Mike A. | 10 years ago | Reply

Bagram air base has not been handed over to Afghan control, only the prison. Criminals arrested in a country are generally imprisoned there, so there is no reason why the Pakistanis should be returned to Pakistan. If Pakistan were truly a US ally then these prisoners should be considered traitors. Everyone knows what punishment traitors suffer.

usman | 10 years ago | Reply

Pakistan should not left its citizens at the mercy of the Americans and Afghan govt.

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