ISLAMABAD: Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court issued on Friday notices to the secretaries of interior, defence and foreign affairs on a petition filed by a relative of a Pakistani prisoner detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Through his counsel, petitioner Mohammad Shafi informed the court that former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had in his book admitted to having handed over 369 of the 689 detained Pakistanis to the US government. His brother-in-law Mohammad Ahmed Ghulam Rabbani was one of them, he added.
He said Ghulam Rabbani had been picked up by Pakistani intelligence officials and handed over to the US authorities without any charges or right to defend himself.
The petitioner requested the court to order the respondents – the ministries of interior, defence and foreign affairs – to make immediate arrangements to repatriate Rabbani.
He said Rabbani had gone missing only one month after he married his sister in 2001. After five years, the family was informed that he was under custody of the Americans.
According to the petition, Rabbani was picked up by officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence in Dec 2001 and locked up in an illegal detention centre in Karachi. He was interrogated by both Pakistani and US intelligence officials and was subjected to the worst possible torture for six weeks.
In Jan 2002, Rabbani was flown to Islamabad and handed over to a group of US intelligence officials. They tied his hands, shackled his feet, taped his mouth, hooded him and threw him into an aircraft which took him to Kabul, the petitioner said.
He was later shifted to “Dark Prison”, which was under control of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and kept there in darkness for seven months. He was persistently subjected to inhumane and disgraceful treatment.
In Aug 2002, Rabbani was transferred to an unofficial underground prison near Kabul and kept there for one year. He was subjected to torture, kept naked and deprived of food.
In Aug 2003, Rabbani was transferred to Bagram prison and the cruel treatment to him continued there too. In Jan 2004, he was shifted to Guantanamo Bay, where he has been receiving terrible treatment till now.
For nearly two years, he held a peaceful hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention without any charge or trial. As a result, he was repeatedly assaulted in his cell and hauled to twice daily force-feeding sessions to punish him for his hunger strike.
The petitioner said the details about Rabbani’s abduction in Karachi, his torture at the hands of Pakistani intelligence officials, his rendition to the US authorities, torture in prisons in Pakistan and Afghanistan and subsequent transfer to Guantanamo Bay had been provided by an American lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, in an affidavit duly attested by the Pakistan High Commission in London.
Rabbani has never been charged with any specific offence nor has he been notified of any pending or contemplated charges in any jurisdiction.
The petitioner contended that the capture and subsequent detention of Rabbani were a violation of both Pakistani and international laws. The government had never informed Rabbani’s family why he had been detained, what the allegations against him were and when he would be released, he regretted.
The petitioner requested the court to direct the government to take up the issue with the US authorities under the Vienna Convention on consular relations and the Geneva Conventions.
Published in Dawn, November 8th , 2014