According to a recently released report by the US-based Open Society Foundations (OSF), Pakistan is among 54 countries which helped the CIA carry out secret detentions and measures aimed at placing detainees outside the reach of the justice system after the 9/11 attacks. Besides Pakistan, the countries listed include Egypt, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, which have faced terrorism on their own soil, as well as key US allies, including the UK, Australia, Canada and other Western nations. Only Canada has apologised for its actions.
The involvement of Pakistan in CIA-led detentions and interrogations has been commented on before. This report details the extent of this role, including the capture, detention, interrogation, torture and abuse of individuals. The country also permitted its airspace and airports to be used for these operations, with detainees at a secret detention centre run by the ISI in Karachi, also claiming they were interrogated by US and British intelligence officials. They have also said they were tortured.
While much of what happened is already known to us and has been brought up by rights groups based inside the country, the OSF report remains shocking. It should also be noted that there has been little discussion on such practices in parliament, even though there is reason to suspect they may be continuing. It is very possibly not a coincidence that the problem of missing persons surfaced soon after agency involvement with the CIA. The entire role of our agencies in the ‘dirty war’ waged after 9/11 must be made public. There needs to be a parliamentary overview of their actions committed both in the past and in the present. It has become absolutely essential that the rule of law be followed, illegal detention centres closed down and agencies held responsible for what they do. The lack of accountability can only encourage abuse of various kinds and the evidence we have suggests such abuse is continuing across Pakistan — adding to the problems in combating terrorism.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.
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