Dawn : Pakistan seeks early release of arrested students

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pakistan seeks early release of arrested students

By M. Ziauddin | April 28, 2009

LONDON: Pakistan’s High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan has appealed to the British government to release the 10 Pakistani students without further delay to undo the enormous damage done to their reputation.

At a press conference here on Monday, Mr Hasan said the UK security forces failed to find any evidence against the students who were arrested in dramatic circumstances and wrongly accused of hatching an ‘Easter Bomb Plot’ which turned out to be another embarrassing intelligence failure.

He vowed that Pakistan would take up the case of these students to the level of the High Court, House of Lords and even the European Court.

Mr Hasan said the UK authorities had failed to bring charges under anti-terrorism legislation and, therefore, it would be only right to release these students and they should be compensated monetarily for troubles they had been through. ‘They should be allowed to carry on studying at their respective universities.’

He said officials from the high commission were in touch with the students — currently being detained at Bradford, Manchester and Coventry — and had assured them of full assistance.

The HC regretted that Pakistan was initially kept in the dark about the nature of charges and proceedings of the probe despite many requests.

Four of the 10 students appealed against their arrest and detention on Friday, four launched appeals on Monday and the remaining will put up appeals on Tuesday.

It was made out in the media as if these students were to stage terrorist acts of huge proportions, he said. The innocent students were maligned. The media has been proven wrong and now it’s the moral duty of the media to vindicate Pakistan with the same amount of coverage, Mr Hasan demanded.

The high commissioner said Pakistan had high expectations from UKs well-known legal justice system and hoped these students would be allowed to complete their studies.

He said the British and American visa rules were the toughest in the world already and only a limited number of people were allowed entry into these countries after a stringent counter-checking process.

He said that of the 27,000 students who applied for student visas in legitimate British institutions, only 10,000 were given visas.