Islamabad - A division bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday issued notices to the government in a Guantanamo Bay prisoner’s case. The dual bench comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq conducted the hearing of a petition related to Ahmad Rabbani, a taxi driver from Karachi who was picked up by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and handed over to US authorities in 2001.

Talking to The Nation, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the counsel for the petitioner, informed that his client remained incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay for over 14 years now and a US Senate standing committee report has recently confirmed that Pakistan authorities in Karachi picked up Rabbani which later turned to be a mistake as he was confused to be Hassan Gul, a wanted member of al Qaeda. Mirza told that it also confirmed that, while at Guantanamo, Rabbani was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, which is a euphemism for torture.

“Rabbani is, reportedly, one of those citizens whom General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf admitted in his book ‘In the Line of Fire’ to have handed over the United States in return for bounties worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” maintained the counsel.

In 2014, Rabbani’s family approached the Islamabad High Court through their counsel Barrister Shahzad Akbar seeking three reliefs: directions to the Foreign Ministry for vigilantly pursuing Rabbani’s case with the US authorities; directions to the Interior Ministry for initiating criminal proceedings against the persons responsible for Rabbani’s abduction; and access to documents which may help Rabbani’s lawyers in defending him. In response to Barrister Shahzad’s petition, the federal government admitted before the court that Rabbani was, indeed, in Guantanamo Bay. The government also claims to have set up an inter-ministerial committee to make efforts to seek Rabbani’s retrieval.

Earlier in 2015, a bench of the Islamabad High Court dismissed the petition on the grounds that the inter-ministerial committee provided an adequate forum to the petitioner to pursue this matter and also because the petitioner had allegedly raised disputed questions of fact. Then, an appeal was filed on Rabbani’s behalf in the same high court against the dismissal of his writ petition.

On Monday, Rabbani’s lawyer contended that the learned single-member bench had failed to fully discharge the high court’s mandate under article 199(c) to enforce the fundamental rights of citizens. He argued once the government has admitted that one of its citizens is in Guantanamo and that he had been sent there without proper extradition under the law, a prima facie illegality stands established.

Mirza continued that as a result, the high court was duty-bound to pursue the matter seriously so that a citizen of Pakistan may be brought back to his motherland and be provided the due process of law.

After hearing the arguments presented by Barrister Shahzad, the court admitted the case for hearing and issued notices to the federal government to explain to the court whatever efforts are being taken for Rabbani’s return. The case will again come up for hearing sometimes next week.