The United States has shared a list of 25,000 Afghans with a request not to deport them as they may face retribution as Pakistan is set to launch a drive against all foreigners living in the country illegally after the expiry of November 1 deadline.
The 25,000 Afghans, who moved to Pakistan after the Afghan Taliban returned to power in August 2021, had worked for the US or its contractors during its military campaign in the war-torn country.
These individuals are eligible for special visas and asylum to the US as their association with the US-led foreign forces could lead them into trouble at the hands of the Afghan Taliban government.
Since the government announced a policy to evict all illegal foreigners mostly Afghans, Washington is in touch with Islamabad at the highest level to ensure such Afghans are not deported.
A senior US official on Tuesday confirmed that Washington had shared with Pakistan a list of 25,000 Afghans, who were eligible for relocation and resettlement in the US.
“Helping facilitate the safe and efficient resettlement and relocation of eligible Afghans to the US is a priority for the United States. As Secretary Blinken has said, it’s a deeply held commitment, and an on-going one,” said the senior US official.
The official said since long before Pakistan announced that it would deport undocumented foreign nationals after October 31, the United States had been working to ensure the protection of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers, including those in the US resettlement and immigration pipelines.
“The United States is engaged in intensive diplomacy with the Government of Pakistan to ensure that vulnerable individuals are not placed in harm’s way. From Washington and in Islamabad, we have engaged on this issue at the highest levels of the Pakistani government,” said the official.
The official further said that to help protect vulnerable individuals, the US had shared a list with the Government of Pakistan of more than 25,000 Afghan individuals in the US resettlement and relocation pipelines.
“We are in the process of sending letters to those individuals that they can share with local authorities to help identify them as individuals in the US pipeline. And we continue to call for the establishment of a protective screening mechanism.”
Also read: Deadline inches closer for Afghan refugees
The official said there were multiple categories of people who might need to be relocated or resettled, including asylees, refugee seekers, US citizens and their families, and individuals with potential claims to US citizenship. “Many within these groups would be placed at risk if repatriated to Afghanistan,” the official cautioned.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure these individuals are protected. That includes on-going discussions with the Government of Pakistan on how we can put in place needed capacity to process resettlement cases as quickly and efficiently as possible,” the official further said.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador Donald Blome met with Caretaker Foreign Minister Jilani today to discuss a broad range of critical bilateral issues, including the safe and efficient processing of Afghan citizens eligible for relocation or resettlement in the United States, according to the US Embassy spokesperson.
“The ambassador highlighted the two countries’ mutual interest in ensuring the safety and security of refugees and asylum seekers, and the importance of putting in place appropriate screening mechanisms so that individuals with legitimate claims of credible fear are not placed in harm’s way,” the statement added.
Bilawal consults legal minds on ZAB reference
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday consulted legal minds of his party on the presidential reference case of his late grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The development came during a meeting of central and provincial officials as well as legal experts of the Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF) at Zardari House here. Bilawal chaired the meeting.
During the meeting, the PLF officials briefed Bilawal on the presidential reference case of ZAB. Farooq H Naik and Shahadat Awan participated in the meeting through video link while Qazi Bashir, Bahram Khan Tareen, Raheel Kamran Cheema, Sajid Tanoli, Gohar Rehman Khattak, Ghiyasul Haque and Asrar Abbasi were present.
Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Faisal Karim Kundi, Raza Rabbani and Amna Paracha were also present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, a civil society delegation also met with Bilawal and discussed the challenges faced by the masses and their solutions.
Bilawal appreciated the delegation for their services and performance in their respective fields.
Ahmed Faraz Khan Advocate, Barrister Saifullah Ghori, Bilal Tariq Khan, Dr Abdul Mohiman, Dr Maria Hamid, Dr Salma Malik, Faheem Sardar, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir, Huma Fawad, Jahanzeb Durrani and Kanwal Malik were among those who met the PPP chairman.
Lubna Bhayat, SM Tariq, Javed Akhtar, Pir Mohammad Anwar, Junaid, Raja Mohammad Khan, Sania Kamran, Shehbaz Zaheer, Shamamata Al Ambararbab, Buland Sohail, Kashaf Ahmed, Talha Rahmani, Osama Malik, Usman Iqbal Bandal and Yusuf Masih were part of the delegation. PPP Information Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi was also present on this occasion.
SC to take up appeals against military trial verdict on Dec 13
The Supreme Court is set to take up high-profile cases in the coming week, including the appeals against its verdict in the trial of civilians in military courts and pleas filed by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.
A Supreme Court larger bench will hear on Dec 13 the intra-court appeals against its judgment in the case of civilians being tried in military courts. The appeals have been filed by the caretaker governments and the defence ministry.
On Oct 23, a five-judge bench of the SC unanimously declared the trial of civilians in military courts as null and void and ordered that the 103 accused in cases relating to the violence on May 9 and 10 be tried under ordinary criminal laws.
Moreover, Justice Naqvi, who is facing complaints of misconduct, recently wrote a letter to the top court’s three senior-most judges’ panel to point out the silence over his petitions challenging the issuance of a show-cause notice to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) despite the lapse of time as stipulated in the SC (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023.
A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Musarrat Hilali, will hear his petitions on December 15.
A nine-member larger bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa will take up a presidential reference for revisiting the judgment wherein the death sentence of PPP founder and former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was endorsed.
The bench will conduct its proceedings in courtroom No. 1 on December 12. These decisions were made by the SC three-member committee comprising CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
The other high-profile cases that will be tackled by the SC in the coming week include the evacuation of illegal Afghan residents, reclassification of commercial land in Karachi, and reinstatement of the FIR against PTI leader Moonis Elahi.
The top court has scheduled the hearing for petitions challenging the evacuation of foreign nationals, especially Afghan citizens, residing unlawfully in the country.
A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Masood, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ayesha Malik, will hear these pleas on December 12.
Farhatullah Babar, Mushtaq Ahmed, Amina Masood Janjua, Mohsin Dawar, Jibran Nasir, Syed Muaz Shah, Pastor Ghazala Parveen, Imaan Zainab Mazari, Ahmad Shabbar, Advocate Imran Shafiq, Luke Victor, Sijal Shafiq, and Rohail Kasi are contesting the evacuation orders.
In a separate case, the dismissal of a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) case against PTI’s Moonis by a special judge in Lahore and then the upholding of that decision by the Lahore High Court, has been challenged in the SC.
The FIA has filed an appeal against the dismissal, leading to a review in the apex court.
Moreover, the SC, previously deliberating on the powers of the caretaker government, directed the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) to assist the court in forming a larger bench to interpret its authority.
In addition, review petitions challenging the decision on the reclassification of land in Karachi to commercial status will be heard in the coming week as well. A three-judge bench, led by Justice Ahsan, is scheduled to hear the matter on December 11.
The court has issued notices to all relevant parties, including the Sindh government, following its earlier ruling invalidating the conversion of public land into residential and commercial categories.
These petitions stem from a challenge initiated in 2010 by former Karachi nazim Niamatullah Khan against the alteration of public land’s categorisation.
A five-judge bench, led by CJP Isa, will also take up on December 14 former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s petition against his removal.
It is expected that the proceedings of both Bhutto and the ex-IHC judge’s cases will be available on the SC website.
SC to share recorded proceedings on website
The Supreme Court is preparing to release recorded proceedings of cases from Monday, marking a significant shift toward transparency in its operations, instead of broadcasting them live.
Initially, the court will share proceedings from Court No. 1, where the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) presides, on the Supreme Court website after the court’s timing.
The move follows the decision made during a full court meeting on September 18, where a majority allowed live coverage of judicial proceedings under the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act 2023. The initiative was piloted with PTV broadcasting the full court proceedings.
Later, a committee, led by Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, was entrusted with assessing various options for streaming court proceedings live.
The committee has now presented its recommendations, deciding that instead of live streaming, recordings of Court No. 1 proceedings will be available on the SC website after the court session on the same day.
The development has evoked mixed reactions among lawyers. While some appreciate the move, a few senior lawyers advocate for live coverage, especially in high-profile cases, believing it would ensure greater transparency.
Read More: CJP says fully cognizant of his duties
The upcoming week holds significant importance for the apex court as it schedules hearings for several important cases.
A nine-member larger bench, headed by CJP Isa, is slated to convene regarding a presidential reference aimed at re-visiting the judgment that endorsed the death sentence of former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
These proceedings are set to take place in Courtroom No. 1 on December 12.
Additionally, a five-judge bench, also under the leadership of CJP Isa, will address the petition filed by former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui against his removal on December 14.
It is expected that the proceedings of both cases will be available on the SC website
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