The release of 14 Pakistani prisoners from Bagram brings the total up to 39 Pakistani prisoners freed from the US-controlled Afghan prison in the past ten months. At least one more Pakistani is still within its walls. It is still not certain whether their release was only to hand them over to Pakistani authorities, or due to lack of evidence for conviction. Out of the 25 released earlier this year, nine have not surfaced, and it is believed that the government has whisked them away for incarceration to an undisclosed location.

We all know how both the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, and Bagram prison in Afghanistan became centres of torture for the inmates, many of whom never faced criminal charges, but were instead tormented in the name of information. But in recent times, the biggest problem of the foreign prisons of the US is the absolute legal vacuum that denies inmates access to any sort of legal aid. Lawyers, journalists and civilians have very limited access to the incarcerated, which gives room for further exploitation of human rights.

Promises mean little, and the promises of politicians even less, but one of the cornerstones of Barack Obama’s election campaign was the closure of prisons abroad in his first year in office. President Obama issued an executive order in 2009, ordering Guantanamo Bay to be shut down, but the Congress’ refusal to construct a replacement prison on US soil brought the plans to an abrupt end. Even the hardliners in the US that principally support the idea of keeping terror suspects imprisoned see the total cost of $443 million as too high, with one inmate’s incarceration costing as much as $3 million a year. However, the release of the Pakistani prisoners, and our government’s decision to keep the details of the release under wraps, tells us that the US is slowly reviewing the inmates held at the prisons, and is releasing those that are innocent, or is handing over the guilty ones to the care of allied governments such as Pakistan, to wash its own hands clean from the past 13 years of brutality.