Pakistanis return home from captivity

On Afghan President Hamid Karzai's order, on Monday, another 66 Pakistanis who fought against the Northern Alliance on the Taliban's side were freed from the Shibirgan prison in northern Afghanistan. This announcement was made on the Pakistani national television with reference to statements of a representative of General Abdurrashid Dostum, military adviser to the Afghan President.

The former prisoners were taken to Kabul to representatives of a Pakistani non-governmental charitable organization and then sent back home.

Several months ago, the Afghan President issued a decree on the release of all prisoners except detainees who had been involved in grave crimes and connected with Al-Qaeda.

But the total number of Pakistanis kept in Afghan prisons and their locations are still unknown. The matter is that a number of field commanders have engaged in trading in prisoners of war, demanding huge ransoms from their relatives. The government lacks efficient levers to bring influence to bear on the country's provincial leaders.

Local observers have given credit for the move to General Abdurrashid Dostum who the other day was appointed President Hamid Karzai's military adviser.

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