APML spokesman denies charge as malign
ISLAMABAD: Claims that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf extradited hundreds of Pakistani nationals – mainly to the US in exchange for US dollars — resurfaced when former Justice Javed Iqbal, chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, said as many as 4,000 Pakistanis were “secretly handed over” to foreign countries, during his rule.
Justice Iqbal made his statement in a briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights on Monday, adding that Musharraf’s Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao was aware of the deal.
“How could someone secretly hand over the Pakistani nationals to any other country?” asked Iqbal, describing the actions illegal, unlawful and a violation of human rights. Iqbal, a retired judge, who chairs the country’s anti-corruption watchdog National Accountability Bureau (NAB), added: “They received (US) dollars in return … Parliament should get this investigated.” However, the claims have been rejected as “baseless” and ”exaggerated” by Musharraf’s and Sherpao’s political parties. “… without evidence, without any proof, without any witnesses, they are leveling outlandish allegations on a former president which amounts to no less than character assassination,” said Mahreen Malik Adam, spokesperson for Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), while talking to Arab News. She said: “Around 400 people were handed over and they were not Pakistanis. They were foreigners from across the border who were involved in terrorist activities damaging Pakistan’s image.”
“This is a lie,” said Faqir Hussain, a veteran and loyalist of Sherpao’s Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), speaking to Arab News. Hussain said it was out of the question that his party chief Sherpao would resort to profiting from extraditing Pakistanis.
“If there is any proof, we would like them to take the matter to court,” Hussain added. A 2006 Amnesty International report said that authorities in Pakistan rounded up hundreds of people, who were accused of committing terrorist acts, and handed them to US authorities for rewards or detained individuals at undisclosed locations. Some were kept in US prisons.
The report, entitled “Pakistan: Human Rights Ignored in the ‘War on Terror’,” accused Pakistan of human rights violations for monetary and other gains from US and its allies. Musharraf, who ruled from 1999-2008, took control of Pakistan in a bloodless military coup, toppling the democratically elected government. A number of court cases against him are pending. He currently lives in the UAE. Adam strongly refuted accusations that Musharraf stepped out of line in contravention of the law. “The assertions (are) malign and disrespect Pakistan, not just Musharraf, and our party will respond accordingly.”