Lahore, Dec. 27 (Reuters): A Pakistani judge ordered the government today to produce in court two Americans and a Canadian national who were detained last week as part of the hunt for members of the al Qaida network.
Judge Javed Butter ordered state prosecutors to present the foreign nationals, all of Pakistani origin, in court on Tuesday, court officials said. They were arrested along with six Pakistani family members in a joint raid by local police and US FBI agents in a border village near Lahore.
Since then, their whereabouts have not been revealed, although officials said they were being questioned by a “federal agency”, usually a reference to intelligence or security agencies.
Initially, police accused six of the local suspects, including 65-year-old doctor Mohammad Javed Khawaja, of several criminal offences, including the possession of illegal weapons. But four of them were released last Friday. Of the Pakistani nationals, only Khawaja and his brother remain in prison.
“The raid was conducted for arresting such Pakistani and foreign nationals who were suspected to be involved in anti-state activities,” the government said in a statement submitted to the court and obtained by reporters.
The statement added that the three foreign nationals were still being investigated for anti-state activities, without specifying what those activities were. Pakistan has arrested more than 400 suspected Islamic militants, including some key al Qaida operatives, since the start of US-led military action in neighbouring Afghanistan last year.
The arrests, in which the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has also taken part, have angered many Pakistanis and prompted protests, often led by the religious right. Critics of President Pervez Musharraf say allowing FBI agents to operate in Pakistan has undermined the country’s prestige.
UN ban defiance
In a startling revelation, a former ISI chief has claimed in his petition that Pakistan defied the UN ban on supply of arms to the Bosnian Muslims and sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles were air lifted to them by the ISI.
The petition, which was filed before the anti-terrorism court in Lahore against the country’s largest newspaper group Jung by former ISI chief Lieutenant General Javed Nasir, stated that the UN embargo was defied to help Bosnians fight the Serbs.