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Pakistan Seeks Return of 640 Imprisoned in Afghanistan - 2003-08-24

Pakistan is seeking U.S. clearance to bring home some 640 Pakistanis imprisoned in Afghanistan because they fought for the Taliban.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said he discussed the matter in Kabul last week with the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Mr. Kasuri said many of the prisoners are suffering from depression and health problems.

He said the Afghan government has no problem with the prisoners being released, but that U.S. authorities wanted to investigate them first for any links to terrorist groups. The foreign minister said if the prisoners are transferred to Pakistan, authorities would screen them for any such links before setting them free.

Thousands of Pakistanis went to Afghanistan to help the Taliban fight a U.S.-led coalition that attacked the country after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.