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Pakistan to send delegation to Guantanamo bay

03 July, 2006

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao has said that Pakistan would send a delegation to Guantanamo Bay this month to meet Pakistanis languishing in the US-run prison for terror suspects.

Pakistan has constituted a team that would go on July 19 to assess the plight of Pakistani prisoners in Guantanamo, Aftab Sherpao told local channel Geo TV.

Director-General of Interior Ministry’s National Crisis Management Cell Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema will lead the three-member team, according to officials.

Sherpao said that eight of the Pakistanis in Guantanamo have been identified and would be repatriated soon.

About 67 Pakistanis had already returned to the country from Guantanamo Bay, he added.

US authorities had asked Pakistan to keep an eye on all prisoners repatriated from Guantanamo Bay, reports said.

One of them, Esa Khan of Bannu, Northwest Frontier Province, said the government has imposed restrictions on all former Guantanamo prisoners that they cannot go out of their hometowns without police information.

"We have also been told not to go to public parks and religious seminaries and also avoid meeting young people," said Khan, adding though he had appealed to human rights groups to oppose the restrictions, no one helped the former inmates.

Sherpao welcomed a truce by militants in North Waziristan tribal region and hoped it would have positive impact on the situation in the volatile region.

Later on addressing a delegation from Azakhel and Taleband district Peshawar at People’s House Sherpao said that an official delegation will soon be visiting Kabu to secure the release of remaining Pakistani detainees languishing in Afghan jails.

Members NWFP Assembly Sikandar Hayat Sherpao and Attiqur Rehman were also present on the occasion. Former Chairman Azakhel union Council Arab Sher Khan, Aman Shah and Waqif Khan along with families and scores of supporters announced joining PPP.

The interior minister said that at least 1500 detainees had been released from Afghan jail as a result of the efforts of government. He said that an official team had been assigned to visit Kabul to talk to Afghan government about the detainees issue.

He lashed out at ANP leadership for betraying the Pukhtoons. He ridiculed ANP claim of having raised the voice for Pukhtoon rights at US, saying that it was an eye wash to mislead the public. He further said that the ANP stance was full of contradictions as it had no clear cut line of action. Sherpao resented that the discrepancies in the words and deeds of the ANP leadership.

He claimed that PPP had forcefully raised the voice for the rights of Pakhtoons at every forum. He maintained that other political parties had hoodwinked Pukhtoons through hollow slogans and these elements had grabbed the public votes in the name of Pukhtoons but failed to deliver goods. He contended that PPP is the true representatives of Pukhtoons which would leave no stone unturned for their rights.

Aftab Sherpao said that various political personalities were being lured by ANP to join the party for different considerations and such conduct had badly discouraged the ideological workers of ANP. He viewed that a party which attracted politicians though allurement would not serve the people. On the other hand, he said PPP would award party tickets to candidates on merits so as they could best serve the masses. He added that PPP would win over the hearts of the people due to its performance.

The minister flayed the MMA government for restoring to injustices in the distribution of uplift funds. He said that uplift funds had been allocated to few areas and the majority ones had been ignored which was contrary to the Islamic injunctions. He said that the MMA had failed to live up to its promises and redress the grievances of the people.

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