News / Asia

US Transfers Pakistani Bagram Detainees to Islamabad

FILE - Afghan detainees are through mesh wire fence inside the Parwan detention facility near Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.
FILE - Afghan detainees are through mesh wire fence inside the Parwan detention facility near Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.
Ayaz Gul

The fate of nine Pakistani detainees who were held at a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan is a source of friction between Islamabad and Kabul. Afghan authorities say the men are dangerous terrorists who threaten the region, and they oppose Washington’s transfer of them to Pakistani custody.

As part of its military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States has stepped up efforts of winding down its so-called Bagram detention center north of Kabul.

There are about 29 non-Afghans being held at the facility, with a majority of them said to be of Pakistanis. They are the only detainees remaining in U.S. custody after shifting hundreds of Afghan prisoners to the Kabul government.
 
Since November 2013, the U.S. military has turned over 25 detainees to Pakistan, including nine men repatriated last week. That release has triggered strong Afghan criticism, even though Washington says Kabul was informed before it took place.   
 
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi has insisted his country is seeking clarifications from the United States, because he has said the prisoners have ties to the Haqqani network and al-Qaida operatives based in Pakistan.

He said the Pakistanis who were arrested by American forces, "are really dangerous people who posed a threat in the past and they are a threat today.” Sediqi claims the freed men are rejoining their terrorist networks operating in Pakistan and will be ready to conduct revenge attacks against the people of Afghanistan.

'Security assurances'
 
The U.S. Department of Defense said the nine detainees were transferred to Pakistani custody with appropriate security assurances, including criminal investigations.
 
Pakistani officials maintain that returned detainees are kept under surveillance to make sure they have no links to militant outfits.

The Pakistani prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, says Afghan authorities have mistaken concerns about the release of detainees. He told VOA the most important task for both countries is to work together jointly to secure their porous border and prevent extremists crossing in either direction.

Regarding the detainees released last week from the Bagram detention center, Aziz questions why they are considered a security threat to Afghanistan.

“They have already arrived in Pakistan," he noted. "So, I think that is not the issue. But basically, there is turmoil in the border [area] and obviously some of [the Pakistani detainees]” have been involved.

Aziz told VOA the problem is one that both nations must confront.

“it is a problem that is a common problem for both Afghanistan and Pakistan and I hope we can jointly solve it.”

The non-governmental organization Justice Project Pakistan is pursing litigation in Pakistani courts on behalf of detainees repatriated from U.S. custody.
 
Its legal director, Maryam Haq, said Pakistani authorities keep detainees for some time in secret prisons after they return from Afghanistan.
 
“The ones that have come back, right now, they are currently being detained. Their location is undisclosed and they are incommunicado detention because their families have not been informed by the government nor have their lawyers nor have the courts,” said Haq.
 
Haq dismissed Afghan accusations that Pakistanis recently released from U.S. custody are dangerous militants or that they are rejoining the ranks of terrorist networks.  

She said some of them are above the age of 60, while some are “mentally unhealthy” according to their legal history. Haq added that her organization also is working to reintegrate these individuals with their families.
 
“These Pakistani prisoners have been in Bagram for up to 10 years in some cases. When they are released to Pakistan they are subjected to further investigation," she said. "So, if in the years that the U.S. and Pakistan continue to detain these people, and at the end of that period they have not been able to find anything on them to even charge them or try them in a court of law, then who can speak to what it is on the bases of which they have been held in the first place.”

Detainee plan
 
NATO forces commander in Afghanistan U.S. General Joseph Dunford assured Congress last month that Pakistani detainees at Bagram are being transferred after each individual's case is investigated to ensure they do not pose threats to U.S. interests.
 
“The challenge with this issue is that our authority to hold these individuals will expire on 31 December of 2014. So, we are working very hard now to ensure that we properly transition these individuals to a place where they can be held accountable for the acts that they have committed,” he said.
 
Haq said there are at least 15 Pakistanis detained at Bagram and her organization is pressuring the Pakistani government to intensify efforts to bring them home before the U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan ceases by end of this year.  
 
Dunford told Congress there is no plan to turn non-Afghan prisoners over to Afghanistan.
 
“We are planing to turn them to the countries from which they originated. My sense is that if we would have turned them over to Afghanistan today, I could not guarantee that they would be properly handled,” he said.
 
This is not the first time prisoner releases have drawn controversy among the three governments. Earlier this year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai released 65 Afghan prisoners, despite repeated U.S. warnings the men were dangerous criminals.  
 
The president said the men had been cleared for release by Afghan judicial authorities.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs