LAHORE – The Lahore High Court has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin negotiations with US and Afghan governments for the return of seven Pakistanis, detained in Bagram.

According to a press release issued by Justice Project Pakistan, while hearing a petition challenging the alleged abduction of the seven Pakistanis Justice Khalid Mehmood found there to be no serious allegations against the detainees. He said a Foreign Ministry’s report (submitted to the court earlier) showed that the government had done nothing to ensure its citizens rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the constitution.

The seven detainees are Awal Noor, Hamidullah Khan, Abdul Haleem Saifullah, Faizal Karim, Amal Khan, Yunus Rahmatullah and Iftikhaar Ahmad.

The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a non-profit law firm, has moved the court for the release of the detainees. The court also observed that it is the government of Pakistan that should be fighting for the rights of its citizens considering that it is in a position to raise this issue at the highest governmental level.

“In these circumstances, respondents are directed to commence negotiations with the government of Afghanistan as well as the government of USA for bringing these detainees in Pakistan for their trial, if any, according to law. The respondents will submit a report within two months from today,” the judge observed.

The court scheduled the hearing for March 21 when the ministry is expected to submit a report on the government’s talks with US and Afghan governments to secure the release of the detainees.

The JPP’s Barrister Sarah Belal welcomed the development, and said, “It is time that institutions of the country begin to stand up for the rights of their citizens.

You cannot begin to imagine what it means for the families of the detainees, who wait endlessly for someone, anyone, to pay heed to their plight.”