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

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.