LUMS Holds Panel Discussion-Bagram
A rich panel discussion on the seven Pakistani detainees being held at Bagram and what it means for Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. was hosted on April 23, 2012 by the Law and Policy Society (LPS). Panelists included government perspectives from Syeda Abida Hussain, Former Ambassador to the U.S. and Sardar Asif Ahmed Ali, Former Foreign Minister. Director of Justice Project Pakistan Sarah Belal was also a panel member, along with Ejaz Haider, Contributing Editor at The Friday Times and Dr. Sikander Shah, LUMS law professor.
Ms. Belal humanized the Bagram Seven by telling the story of one detainee and drawing out important mistakes that her research shows intelligence agencies have made in these cases. Problems with translators, for example, distinguishing different dialects of Arabic were recalled in her reports. Ms. Belal aptly said that though she believes that all seven detainees she represents are innocent, none are as innocent or guilty because none have been tried. Prof. Shah provided expertise on international legal matters, while Ejaz Haider commented on how law is suspended during certain periods of time. “Sovereign is the one who creates exception,” he said, and legal order rests with them.
Abida Hussain and Sarder Asif provided insight into what was happening in the government when the Bagram Seven situation began. Sarder Asif said this case was a part of a “larger disease” in the aftermath of Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan, which compromised its people. On Bagram, Abida Hussain maintained that it was the “duty of the government to pursue the matter". She reflected with sadness that she had seen terrorists, namely Osama bin Laden, cost her country a great deal and drew an important line stating that “a terrorist is a terrorist” be they Pakistani, American, Saudi Arabian, or any other nationality.
Panelists took questions at the end from the many students, journalists, and members of the community who were in the audience. Isaam Ahmed, Feature Writer at the Christian Science Monitor, moderated the discussion.