September 7, 2022

By Rehan Piracha

LAHORE: The Senate standing committee on human rights has sought a report from the foreign ministry over the delay in the release of Saifullah Paracha, who is the oldest Pakistani prisoner detained in Guantanamo Bay prison of the United States.

Senator Walid Iqbal, chairman of the standing committee, told Voicepk that the matter of Saifullah Paracha was referred to the committee by the senate chairman. “Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan brought up the matter of Saifullah Paracha’s release on the floor of the house and the senate chairman had referred it to standing committee on human rights,” Senator Walid Iqbal added.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmad raised the issue of the continued imprisonment of 75-year-old Saifullah Paracha in Guantanamo Bay during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on on September 5. He claimed that the United States government had declared Paracha innocent and wished to release him. “The American authorities have been in constant contact with Pakistan regarding the return of their citizen,” he added.

Mustafa, son of Saifullah Paracha, told the senate body that his family including his father are citizens of Pakistan by birth. Mustafa said his father and his brother was arrested in Thailand and New York respectively in 2003 and were sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.

However, the same judge overturned his decision in 2018, leading to the release of his brother Uzair Paracha. “But unfortunately his father is still in Guantanamo Bay jail beacause his nationality has not been confirmed by the ministry of interior,” he told the committee members.

Officials of ministry of foreign affairs apprised the committee that nationality of Saifullah Paracha had been confirmed by the interior ministry and conveyed to the US government. Saifullah Paracha would be released soon, the foreign ministry officials said. Senator Walid Iqbal said he sought a report on the issue from the government by September 15.

Foreign ministry officials told the committee that there were currently three Pakistani nationals in Guantanamo Bay. According to media reports, the other two Pakistanis identified are Abdul Rabbani Abd Al Rahim Abu Rehman, and Muhammad Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani.

The NADRA only verified the nationality of Saifullah Paracha along with family profile, whereas no record was found for the remaining two prisoners. However, the IMPASS confirmed issuance of passports to the prisoners from the Pakistan’s counsel general at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1992, media reports said.

The United States notified approval of Saifullah Paracahi’s release from Guantanamo Bay detention centre in May 2021.


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