ISLAMABAD - In a statement, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has assured the Swedish authorities that the Swedish women arrested along with Mehdi Ghezali, also a Swedish national and alleged al-Qaeda member who served in Guantanamo Bay, is not being subjected to torture duing investigation.
According to reports in Pakistani media, the three Swedes were arrested together with seven Turks and one Russian, suspected for collaboration with the jihadist terror network al Qaeda. All of them were arrested in D G Khan while they were covered in Burqas.
Officials from the Swedish embassy in Islamabad have now been able to meet the three arrested Swedish citizens, including Ghezali, his wife and a child.
Asked whether Mr Malik’s statement that the woman is not being tortured implies that the Swedish men are facing torture, Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, a professor of International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, said the investigation process in the case of terror suspects, especially of the sort arrested in D G Khan, may involve procedures to secure actionable information from the arrested individuals as soon as possible.
In an interview in Islamabad, he pointed out a glaring contradiction in Western approach to terrorism that on the one hand Pakistan is accused of not doing enough; on the other, when it does arrest suspected al-Qaeda persons, be they of Swedish or any other origin, then it comes under pressure on the basis of human rights.
“Human rights violations, or the practice of what you call as torture, have limited application in cases of terror suspects, because preempting future terrorist acts requires speedy and rigorous investigations.”
Mehdi Ghezali was for several years imprisoned at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay on Cuba. The three arrested Swedes have been taken to the Pakistan capital Islamabad for investigation.
In December 2001, the 30-year-old Ghezali was arrested in Pakistan, close to the border near the Tora Bora Mountains in Afghanistan and was shortly thereafter handed over to U.S. military.
Ghezali was released from the Guántanamo base in July 2004, without having been brought to justice. The United States never told what crimes he was a suspect of.
After returning to Sweden, Ghezali claimed to have been subjected to torture, but refused to answer any questions about why he had been in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistani authorities also have suspected Ghezali to have been involved in a prison uprising where 17 people were killed, this he has denied.
Access this interview in Swedish at aftonbladet.se