Nasir mohmand - A no-profit lawyer firm Justice Protect Pakistan (JPP) is struggling in Lahore High Court to get Pakistani prisoners, detained in US administered Bagram Jail in Kabul, back and so far successful to release six out of 40 prisoners in last November while 34 are still languishing there.
The US government wants to hand over these prisoners to Pakistan as it has already handed over Afghan detainees to Karzai government. The JPP fears that in December 2014 after US military pull out the remaining prisoners would be given into Afghan custody if Pakistan does not ask for their repatriation. Barrister Sarah Belal, director Justice Protect Pakistan (JPP), is fighting legal battle for their release. There are many stories like Hamidullah, the one who was discussed in these stories.
Hamidullah Khan (Released)
Hamidullah was was picked up in July 2008 when, at the age of fourteen. He travelled from Karachi to his father’s village in Waziristan to salvage the family’s possessions in their home during the military operation. His friend, Khairullah, travelled with him by bus from Karachi to Dera Ismail Khan. When Hamidullah parted with his friend, Hamid told him to wait for his return from Waziristan within two days so they could travel back to Karachi together. Khairullah never saw Hamidullah again. In June 2010, Hamidullah told his father that the Pakistani Ambassador had visited all the prisoners at Bagram and had promised Hamidullah that the government would have him released by August 2010. He was repatriated to Pakistan on November 16th, 2013.
Yunus Rahmatullah (Salah Mohammed Ali)
Yunus Rahmatullah was born in 1982 and originates from Balochistan. In 2004, he was working in real estate in Iraq, when he was captured by British soldiers. The British handed him over to American troops, and soon after he was sent from Iraq to Bagram. His family had no contact with him until 2010. A former Bagram prisoner reported that Yunus Rahmatullah is “in catastrophic physical and mental condition, and would often be put into a special cell reserved for people suffering serious mental health problems”. In the summer of 2010, the Pakistani Ambassador in Kabul met Yunus at Bagram and promised him that the government will do all it can to secure his release. An ICRC representative who visited Bagram and read Yunus’s file also said that there are no serious allegations against him.
Abdul Halim Saifullah
Abdul Halim Saifullah was born in 1985. His mother, Rang Mahal, remembers him as a very loving and responsible son. Saifullah worked as a labourer in Karachi to help support his family. His father, Abdul Halim, had been suffering from paralysis. In 2005, Saifullah took him to a clinic in Karachi. Saifullah dropped his father at the hospital, saying he would run a few errands and return soon, but was never seen again. Later in 2006, the International Committee of Red Cross informed Saifullah’s family that he was being held in an unidentified detention facility in Afghanistan. In 2007, ICRC informed them that Saifullah was at Bagram. The family began to receive letters from Saifullah. They have spoken to him over the phone a few times, but they are not permitted to ask him details about his capture or treatment while at Bagram. In the last phone call, Saifullah told his brother that he was very scared and desperately wanted to come home. The capture of the main breadwinner has also led to a great deal of financial troubles for the family and they have incurred a lot of debt. Because of the stress, Saifullah’s brother has fallen quite ill, and the entire family is suffering.
Fazal Karim’s family is originally from Swat, but they settled in Karachi many years ago. Fazal was abducted in 2003 when he was travelling across the country for a business trip. His family did not know that he had been rendered to Bagram till they received a letter from him via the ICRC in 2005. In 2008, after years of poor health and escalating depression, Fazal’s father, Shahtab Gul, to whom he had been very close, passed away. The family initially could not bear to tell Fazal about the loss because they knew the extreme hurt it would cause. Fazal has been able to tell his family that when the authorities at Bagram interrogated him, he was physically abused and kept in solitary confinement. However, Fazal Karim said that no matter how many beatings he endures, he will insist on his innocence. In a letter sent by the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul to the US Embassy in Kabul dated Feb 23, 2011, the Embassy disclosed that Fazal Karim has been cleared for release by the Detainee Review Board, and hence should be repatriated to Pakistan. Thus far, there has been no progress in returning Fazal to his family.
Amal Khan is 29 years old. In July 2002, he left the family home in Mansehra to look for work. He vanished shortly thereafter. Unable to understand why he was not in contact for seven months, his family lived in terror that he had somehow been killed. In early 2003, they learnt that he was being held prisoner in Bagram, and by 2004 they had been able to speak with him there through the ICRC. He is not allowed to tell them how he came to be there. Since Amal Khan’s disappearance, his family has suffered severe emotional hardship, and his mother breaks down each time she tries to speak to him. Amal’s brother once managed to talk to the Bagram authorities on the phone and was informed that Amal’s next DRB hearing is on 22nd December 2011.
Iftikhar Ahmed is a 23 year old mentally-ill man from Pakpattan. Since 2009, Iftikhar had been making trips to the area around Quetta to provide manual assistance in ongoing water boring projects. He made his last trip in January 2010. When he was done with his project in February, he called his family to tell them that he would be returning the next day. However, Iftikhar never came home and when his family called his mobile number it was constantly switched off. In June 2010, Iftikhar’s father heard from the ICRC that he was in Bagram. His family has received one letter from him to date and they have spoken over the telephone three times. Iftikhar has managed to convey to his family that he was picked up by the Americans in the border area of Chamman and taken to Bagram. His siblings and wife are very worried about his health because he needs medical treatment and care that he cannot receive in prison. His family has also been harassed by the intelligence agencies.–(to be Continued) The writer is a freelance journalist.