Dawn : Bail pleas of seven students rejected in Britain

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bail pleas of seven students rejected in Britain

By M. Ziauddin | July 30, 2009

LONDON: The Special Immigration Appeals Commission on Wednesday rejected bail applications of all seven Pakistani students originally arrested along with three of their other countrymen on suspicion of being involved in terrorism activities but later released for want of actionable evidence and ordered to be deported on the grounds of national security.

Their appeals against deportation orders will now come up for hearing not before April 2010 when they would be completing almost one full year in detention since their arrest in April this year.

Out of the 10 arrested students one has already left for Pakistan voluntarily and two were released earlier this month on bail but are under police surveillance round the clock.

Soon after it was found that the students were arrested without any hard evidence, the British Home Office, looking for a face-saver, tried to rush the Pakistan government into signing a MoU under which it would be obliged not to arrest or torture any Pakistani the British government would deport on grounds of national security.

Islamabad refused to sign any such document on the grounds that if anyone was deported for being a threat to UK’s national security he would be as much a threat to its security because Pakistan was a front-line state in the war against terrorism.

Sibghatullah Kadri QC, who appeared pro bono on behalf of one of the detainees, told Dawn after the bail application was rejected that this was the first time in his legal career in the UK spanning over almost half a century that he found the ‘fair-minded’ British legal system trying to hide behind highly unfair rules.

‘It is nothing but pure pique on the part of British Home Office,’ he said. ‘Having failed to obtain a face saver from Pakistan the HO was now bent upon destroying the lives and the careers of the seven students,’ he added.

He was not sure if the appeals against deportation orders would come up for hearing even in April 2010, ‘I think they don’t have any intention of releasing them on bail and under the law they cannot deport them unless Pakistan agrees to sign an unfair agreement so I suspect that they would shut the doors on these students and throw the keys.’