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FBI agents pick up physician

On the same day when the US authorities in their own country arrested hundreds of Iranian citizens who had turned up to comply with the INS regulations, the FBI was accused of picking up a physician and his eight family members from their residence in Pakistan, apparently with the compliance of the local authorities. The incident invoked strong protest as an outrage against the sovereignty of Pakistan. The Prime Minister denied the involvement of foreign agencies in the raid, and a committee was set up for inquiry into the matter.

FBI agents pick up physician, eight family members

Dawn, Karachi. Friday, December 20, 2002

LAHORE, Dec 19: The US, FBI agents and local law enforcers picked up a physician and his eight family members from their residence in Manawan on Thursday.

Those arrested are Dr Ahmad Javed Khawaja, his sons Dr Omar Karar and Dr Khizar Ali, his brothers Ahmad Naveed Khawaja and Ahmad Nadeem Khawaja, nephews Usman, Ali and Hassan and, uncle Earooq Mir.

The physician and his two sons also hold the US nationality, while one of his brothers and a nephew have Canadian passports.

Rubina Omar, Dr Omar's wife, and her mother Mrs Saeed said the family members woke up when they heard gunshots, shouts and screams at around 2:30am. "We thought some robbers had broken into."

Danish Khan, a night watchman, said he saw people in uniforms scaling the outer walls. "They hit me in the head with pistol butts when I raised an alarm," he said and added the intruders gave him a thrashing but in the meantime the family members opened fire which was retaliated by the law enforcers.

"We are here just for your safety as we have got information that some criminals had broken into the house," Rubina quoted the law enforcers as repeatedly saying after they had trespassed the house and managed their entry into the rooms.

She said all the men in uniforms stayed outside the rooms and only people in plainclothes and three policewomen came inside and started a search. She added one of the plain-clothesmen was a foreigner and the other seemed to be men from local intelligence agencies.

"There were other foreigners too outside the rooms as I heard speaking them in English." They did not tell the family that what were they searching for, she said.

Rubina said the plainclothesmen made a thorough search of all belongings of the three families residing in the house. "They collected everything they found like notebooks, phone index, cell phones, four computers, all floppy discs and CDs, cash and jewellery."

She said the law enforcers lined up all the male family members and chained them. All the women were taken to a room and the policewomen conducted their body search, she added.

Zunaira Imtiaz, another family member sitting beside Rubina, said the law enforcers bundled all the male family members in police vans- and drove them away.

Marghoob Ahmad Mir, a brother-in-law of the physician, denied that the doctor or his family members had any links to Al Qaeda, Jihadi groups or any other religious outfit.

However, he admitted that the physician was a. religious man and had been visiting Afghanistan during its Soviet occupation.

He visited there several times to help the war victims, he said.

To a query, Rubina said Dr Javed once visited Afghanistan after 9/11 in Oct 2001 and had taken a truckload of medicines for the war victims. However, Mr Marghoob was quick to intervene and claimed that the physician had not succeeded in entering Afghanistan and returned from border. Later, he said, the doctor distributed the medicines among Afghans at refugee camps in Peshawar.

To another question, Mr Marghoob said the physician did his MD (Doctor of Medicine) and specialisation in gastroenterology from America and spent there around 10 years. He returned to Pakistan in 1983 and since then he was running a clinic dose to his house and had been treating patients free of cost. It was also confirmed by neighbours and residents who said the doctor never charged even a penny from any patient.

He said contacts had been made with the authorities through a bureaucrat, who happened to be a dose relative of the physician, in Islamabad. "They have assured us that six of the arrested men would be released on Friday (today).

The doctors' wife did not come to meet this reporter but sent a message through a family member which reads: "Why the authorities treated us like criminals. This is just a shameful act. The government like terrorists is doing unlawful acts just to please the foreigners. This is sheer violation of the law and the human rights." "If someone is wanted in any case he could be asked to appear for investigation and what is there to harass people and trespassing their houses like criminals?" she asked.

On the other hand, there was no official word on the issue. Spokesmen for the police and the Punjab government officials kept on saying that they were preparing a statement whenever they were contacted but nothing was there till the filing of this report late night.

Source: Dawn, Karachi. Friday, December 20, 2002

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