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Team to be sent to Guantanamo


ISLAMABAD, Dawn: Islamabad would send a delegation to Guantanamo Bay by the end of this month to get Pakistanis languishing in the prison facility released, a senior government official told Dawn on Sunday.

He said Interior Ministry’s National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) Director-General Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema will lead the three-member team.

However, the authorities have not confirmed the number of Pakistani prisoners languishing in the camp where terror suspects and Al Qaeda people have been detained.

“Our foreign office is gathering information about those Pakistanis still under detention in the US jail,” the official said.

The official expressed the hope that the government would get the information about Pakistanis prisoners in two or three days.

US President George W. Bush has recently said that the US wants to close down the Guantanamo Bay, a US navy base in Cuba, which houses terror suspects.

Around 490 detainees are stated to be in the Guantanamo prison facility, which opened in January 2002.

The US feared that the dangerous detainees in the US prison would again join international terrorism network or Al Qaeda, if they were released.

On the other hand, there has been international criticism of conditions at the US camp and the length of time detainees have been held there without trial.

The US has also been criticised that the detainees, held on suspicion of involvement in terrorism, are mistreated through cruel interrogation methods.

In a recent press conference, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said that about 35 Pakistanis were languishing in Guantanamo Bay. He, however, said the exact number of Pakistani prisoners was yet to be confirmed.

The minister has announced that of the total Pakistani detainees, eight had been identified and they would be repatriated soon. However, not a single one could be freed so far.

About 67 Pakistanis had already returned to the country from Guantanamo Bay, the minister said.

Reports said the US authorities had asked Pakistan to keep a vigilant eye on all the prisoners repatriated from Guantanamo Bay.

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