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SHC calls comments from foreign, defence ministries

Karachi: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued notices to the ministries of Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs on a petition against the continuous detention of Dr. Aafiya and her two children by US authorities.

Intekhab Alam Suri and Imran Ahmed of Human Rights Network, filing pro bono petition, submitted that Dr. Aafiya, a resident of Karachi, along with her three children was allegedly kidnapped by law enforcement agencies from Gulshan-e-Iqbal in March 2003 when she was leaving for Rawalpindi from her mother’s house.

The petitioners alleged that US agencies – CIA and FBI – were also involved in such operation and submitted that threats were issued to Dr Afiya’s family to remain silent over the abduction or else their lives would be in danger. They said the detainees were handed over to US agencies by Pakistani LEAs in violation of the Constitution.

Petitioners’ counsel Iqbal Aqeel said that the detainees were not produced before any court of law in Pakistan and on the disclosure of British journalist Yvonne Ridley this year that Dr Afiya was detained at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan the US authorities, owing to the pressure of human rights organization, falsely showed the arrest of Dr. Afiya in Afghanistan and booked her in false case.

Dr Afiya, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, and did her PhD in genetics, is now facing trial in US for allegedly attacking US soldiers in Afghanistan.

The counsel said that the Pakistani government had failed to fulfill the requirements of its undertaking rendered before the court of law in the case pertaining to the extradition of Yousuf Ramzi to US in 1997, as the law officer had undertaken that the government will make all out efforts to protect the lives and liberties of the citizens in accordance with the law. He said that the handing over of Dr. Afiya to US tantamount to selling Pakistani citizen and violating the law of the land.

He said that a son of Dr. Afiya, Mohammad Ahmed Khan, was released by US authorities, while the whereabouts of her two children – Mohammad Suleman and baby Marium – were still unknown, adding, the kidnapping case was also brought to the knowledge of IG Sindh and federal government.

It was argued by the counsel that the government has disrespected the nation by kidnapping the family of the detainee and a case be registered against the persons involved in kidnapping Dr. Afiya and her children. The counsel contended that US courts have no authority to conduct trial without fulfilling the extradition formality and added that the detainees should be handed over to the Pakistan government.

Naming ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Sindh Home Department as respondents, the petitioners prayed the court to direct the respondents to give explanation for violating fundamental rights, besides the persons involved in the kidnapping of Dr. Afiya and her children be tried by the court of law. The petitioners also prayed the court to direct the government to make arrangements for the protection and release of the detainees from US.

SHC’s division bench comprising Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Ghulam Dastagir Shahani, after conducting preliminary hearing of the petition, issued notices to respondents for December 5 and called their comments.

Detention case: Meanwhile, the SHC has directed federal and provincial law officers to file definite statement regarding the whereabouts of a man who was allegedly arrested by law enforcement agencies.

Ms. Asfiya Zeeshan submitted that her spouse Zeeshan Jalil was picked up by LEAs on October 18 from near Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum and his whereabouts were still unknown.

She submitted that LEAs had earlier kidnapped her brother-in-law Ibrahim and after detaining him for few hours compelled him to call Zeeshan and upon his arrival they released Ibrahim and took her spouse into custody.

She prayed the court to order production of the detainee and record his statement.

Provincial law officer told the court that police high-ups of different regions of the province were asked to submit comments regarding the whereabouts of the detainee. He said the detainee was neither arrested nor detained by CID and Sukkur police, while replies from other quarters were being awaited.

The court expressed dissatisfaction over the comments filed on behalf of police officials and directed the federal and provincial law officers to file definite statements about the detainee’s whereabouts. The next hearing of the case has been fixed for December 5.
Source: The News
Date:11/26/2008

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