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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Islamabad, 30 Jan. (AKI/DAWN) - The detained former official of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and activist with the Coordinator Defence of Human Rights Council (DHRC), Khalid Khawaja, has said that he was a victim of state terrorism, as he was booked under baseless charges. The former close aide of Osama bin Laden was picked up by police on Friday on charges of inciting people against the government. His family said on Friday that they did not know about his whereabouts. On Saturday a judge remanded Khawaja in police custody for three days to investigate the charge.

Khawaja was brought to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Monday for a medical check-up.

He was stated to be suffering from some heart disease and was discharged from the hospital after undergoing an ECG test.

Speaking to reporters at the hospital, Khawaja urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take notice of his arrest on what he called baseless charges. He complained that his family members were not being allowed to meet him in the lockup. He alleged that police had seized his medicines.

Khalid Khawaja was a senior official of ISI when it was fuelling jihadi resistance movements against the Soviets in Afghanistan. After being forced to retire from the Pakistan Air Force and the ISI on the instructions of former military dicatator General Zia ul-Haq, he went to Afghanistan and fought with Osama bin Laden.

A retired Pakistan Air Force squadron leader, Khawaja is currently the chief coodinator of the Islamic Centre for Research and Defence of Human Rights, an organisation which campaigns on the behalf of relatives of terrorism suspects who have "disappeared".

According to a senior security official, Khawaja was taken into custody for playing a "negative" role as coordinator during the indirect negotiations between the Pakistani government and the religious clergy or ulema to resolve the issue of the demolition of unauthorized mosques in Islamabad.

He was also vigorously pursuing the case of the missing people at different forums and was seen in all anti-government demonstrations held in Islamabad during the recent past. Khawaja told reporters that if he was a criminal then why did the local administration use him as coordinator to resolve their confrontation with ulema.

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