ShareThis Page
Pakistan to pursue release of detainees |

Pakistan to pursue release of detainees

| Sunday, August 18, 2002 12:00 a.m

KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan is seeking the release of some of the 58 Pakistanis held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba because they are not hardcore al-Qaida members, a senior official said Saturday.

Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider said a team of Pakistani anti-terrorism expert visited Guantanamo recently to interrogate Pakistanis and others held there. Most of them were not al-Qaida members but simply ordinary people who went to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban during last year’s U.S. military campaign, he said.

Haider hinted at the possible release of some of the prisoners but did not say how many or when.

“We are in contact with U.S. officials to this effect, and President (Gen. Pervez) Musharraf would take up the matter in the U.S. next month. We are hopeful for positive results,” Haider said.

Musharraf plans to travel to the United States next month for the annual U.N. General Assembly debate in New York City.

Pakistan became a key ally of the United States in the war against terrorism after Musharraf abandoned support for the Taliban following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Pakistani officials say the government has handed over more than 300 suspected al-Qaida members to the United States. They were captured in the remote tribal areas along the Afghan border and in raids in Faisalabad, Lahore and other major cities in Pakistan.

Among them was Abu Zubaydah – believed to be the highest-ranking al-Qaida member in U.S. custody. He was arrested in March in Faisalabad while allegedly attempting to reorganize the movement following the collapse of the Taliban last year.

Despite Pakistan’s support for the anti-terrorism war, thousands of men heeded the call of hardline clerics and rushed to Afghanistan to help defend the hardline Islamic movement as the United States prepared for military operations, which began Oct. 7. Many of them were killed or were captured when the Taliban collapsed under relentless U.S. bombing; others managed to escape back into Pakistan.

Haider said his government is taking steps to reduce the influence of hardline clerics and to rid Pakistan of terrorist groups. The government also is focusing on reforming the Islamic school system, he said, adding that extremists are giving Islam a bad name.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.