PESHAWAR: A woman whose husband is behind bars in Afghanistan after being accused of spying, has demanded that Pakistani and Afghan governments take steps for his immediate release, saying that her husband is being punished for his Pakistani nationality.
Naseem Bilal, a resident of the Hashtnagri neighbourhood told The Express Tribune that her husband, Khalid Bilal Qureshi, had been working with an American company Contrack International as an air conditioning technician since 2007 at the Lashkar Gah Airbase in Helmand Province.
Naseem, who managed to meet her husband after two years in Kabul’s Pul Charkhi prison a week ago, said that Khalid was arrested by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) in 2010 and was later sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges of spying for the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Later, a Kabul court added four more years to Khalid’s sentence.
She added that they only came to know about Khalid’s case some three months back, and by then he had already been sentenced. “One day I received a call from my husband after an absence of three months, and he told me of his incarceration in Lashkar Gah prison and of his conviction,” she said.
Naseem explained that her husband told her that one day, NDS personnel raided the premises where he worked and arrested an Afghan identified an Asghar. Some 10 days later, they returned and took away Khalid and a Nepali citizen. She insisted that her husband was falsely implicated in the case by the Afghan, adding that he was forcibly made to sign documents in a language which he did not understand -- he was sentenced on the same grounds.
Naseem said that her husband spent the first two years of his detention at the Lashkar Gah prison, after which, on December 1, he was shifted to Pul Charkhi Jail in Kabul. She said that she, along with 10-year-old daughter and Khalid’s brother travelled to Kabul to meet her husband.
According to Naseem, she and her daughter were only allowed to meet Khalid for half an hour, after a weeklong wait. “First, when the prison authorities checked our Pakistani documents, they denied permission to see Khalid,” she said, adding they (the authorities) did not even check the Pakistani embassy letter which they were carrying. Khalid’s brother was not allowed to meet him in prison.
Naseem, who is a mother of three children, said that she and her children had run from pillar to post for the past two years and that until now, all their appeals to find and meet Khalid fell on deaf ears.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2012.
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