PAKISTAN: Life of a prisoner in Guantanamo is at risk


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-031-2008
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Judicial system, Police negligence, Prison conditions, Rule of law,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the deteriorating health of a Pakistani prisoner detained in a U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The prisoner is suffering from a serious heart ailment and his health has worsened since he was first imprisoned there in September 2004. The government of Pakistan has not intervened to ensure he is afforded with adequate medical attention. He has been charged for alleged involvement in the September 11 attack but has since not been tried nor produced in court. The prison’s medical facilities are inadequate and his request for treatment outside the prison has been denied.


Sixty-year-old Saifullah Paracha was a businessman and a prominent social worker in Karachi City, Sindh province. He was first reported to have disappeared on 6 July 2003 in Bangkok, Thailand while on a business trip, but his relatives found out later through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Islamabad that he had been arrested and subsequently detained in Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan on charges of terrorism. He was accused in having been involved in the September 11 attack. He was kept incommunicado there for over a year.

It was on 23 August 2003 that Saifullah’s family learned of his detention from the ICRC in Islamabad. However, his family was unable to communicate with him while he was detained there. One year later, in September 2004, Saifullah’s family was once again informed by a person from the ICRC that he had been transferred to Camp-5, a maximum security U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It is reported that each cell is approximately measured 6 feet wide and 8 feet high. The lights are switched on 24 hours a day and the prisoners are allowed out of their cells only two hours in a day. The prison guards periodically change the temperature of the cells from extreme cold to extreme heat. For a week they turn up the air conditioning system to maximum freezing the prisoners who are given only a thin cotton sheet at night. This is then taken away the following morning. Then the following week the guards turn off the air conditioning system and raise the temperature to a stifling 35 degrees Celsius.

The only communication his wife, Farhat, has had was through his lawyer. She also sometimes receives electronic mail from some human rights organizations. Though she can receive replies from Saifullah to her letters, it can take four to five months. Also, the manner in which the letters are written she described as “short, hurried scribbling” and written at the back of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) documents.

Since Saifullah’s detention there, he has experienced severe chest pains and shortness of breath on several occasions but has never been taken to a hospital facility for treatment. He had been diagnosed to have suffered a chronic heart disease prior to his arrest. Some of his relatives also had a similar history and died of such ailment. Thus, the denial by the prison authorities to have him treated in hospital and medical facilities outside the prison poses a serious risk to his life.

Saifullah is suspected of having links with al-Qaeda. According to his lawyer Mr. Zachary Katznelson, senior counsel of Reprieve, an organization based in UK working for prisoners in death row, the charges against him were reportedly over his alleged involvement in a plan to smuggle explosives into the U.S. for al-Qaeda. He was also alleged to have spoken to al-Qaeda’s Osama Bin Laden. Farhat said her husband has never denied the fact that her husband had met Bin Laden sometime in 1999 but she denied the charges against him. In fact, Saifullah use to brag that he had met Osama and was somehow taken in by his soft-spoken voice. He said he had wanted to interview Osama to give his version for his private production house in Karachi City.

The serious concern over his deteriorating health and continued deprivation of adequate medical treatment was due to a number of deaths of prisoners detained there. Reprieve has reported that five prisoners have already died due to illness and disease in Guantanamo prison. They were not afforded adequate medical attention.


Prior to his arrest, Saifullah Paracha ran a business of exporting garments, construction of private buildings and a private production house for radio and television channels.

Towards the end of 2002, Mr. Majid Khan, a person who allegedly had links with Al-Qaida, booked an apartment, which Saifullah owned. The said apartment project was then incomplete when purchased by Saifullah which he named as the Cliftonia at Clifton beach in Karachi City after having it renovated for his business of selling the apartments. However, at the time, neither Saifullah nor the Pakistani authorities knew of Majid’s identity.

Saifullah’s 25-year-old son, Uzair, who joined his father’s business after completing his Masters Degree in Business Administration, was also present when the booking was made. When Mr. Majid came to know that Uzair was then on a scheduled trip to the U.S. for study he had requested him to check the status of his citizenship at the U.S. Immigration office in Manhattan. Majid had claimed he was concerned over his U.S. citizenship after having been outside the country for many years. Uzair nevertheless promised to do so.

Sometime in March 2003, after Uzair arrived in the U.S. he went to the immigration to inquire into the status of Majid’s citizenship. Unknown to Uzair, at the time Majid was already wanted by the U.S. government in connection with the September 11 attack. Soon after, Uzair was himself arrested on 23 March 2003 over charges that he had links with Al-Qaida. He was reportedly not provided any lawyer for his defense when he was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in 2005.

Please write letters to the concerned authorities in Pakistan for them to intervene to ensure that Saifullah Paracha is given adequate medical attention he requires promptly. To deny any assurance that their citizens’ welfare are looked into in foreign prisons threatens the life of this prisoner. They must also ensure that Saifullah and other Pakistani nationals continuously detained in Guantanamo prison are afforded with ordinary criminal procedure.

The AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapportuer on the Question of Torture and Working Group on arbitrary detention calling for their immediate intervention in this matter.

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Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: Life of a prisoner in Guantanamo is at risk

Name of the prisoner: Mr. Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani national
Place of detention: At Camp 5, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Period of detention: From September 2004 to present
Status of his condition: Saifullah had been suffering from heart ailment and his condition while in detention has since worsened. He has never been taken to any hospital or medical facilities for treatment and was denied of his request for medication outside the prison.

I am writing to draw your attention to the plight of Mr. Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani national presently detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After his arrest in 6 July 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand, he had been detained there soon after his transfer from Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan in September 2004. Mr. Saifullah had been detained reportedly over charges of having been involved in the September 11 attack in the U.S.

I have learned that prior to his arrest, Saifullah had already been suffering from heart ailment and that some of his relatives have also already died because of this disease. Since his detention in Guantanamo prison, I have learned that his medical condition had worsened. He had been experiencing difficulty in breathing and had severe chest pains several times in a week. Though the prison authorities are aware of this, they fail to afford him adequate medical attention, particularly of admitting him into hospital or medical facility outside the prison with sufficient medical service.

I have learned that although there as medical facilities inside the prison, these were reportedly not sufficient prompting Saifullah’s refusal to have him treated there. His request to be admitted and treated outside the prison was also denied. His condition as a result deteriorates posing serious risk to his life. To deny this person adequate treatment he requires and that the failure of the Government of Pakistan to ensure the welfare of its citizens is unacceptable. I urge you to take whatever intervention is necessary to look into the welfare of this prisoner and other Pakistani national reportedly been detained there.

As a Pakistani national, the government of Pakistan has responsibility to ensure that welfare of their citizens detained in foreign lands is looked into. It should also take action into reports that Saifullah has not been taken for trial nor produced in court for the charges laid on him. He was detained in Afghanistan for over a year and was later in Guantanamo since his arrest.

However, I have learned that Saifullah has not been subjected to a normal criminal procedure. To deny this prisoner, as well as other prisoners detained there of equal protection to law, is tantamount to the denial of their fundamental rights envisage in the international laws. The continued deprivation of this prisoner’s right to obtain adequate medication is a violation to the basic and minimum standards on treatment of prisoners under the international law. It is the utmost responsibility of the Government of Pakistan to protect its citizens.

I trust that you will take adequate action in this case.

Yours sincerely,


1. General Pervez Musharraf
President’s Secretariat
Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
E-mail: (please see –

2. Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
S Block
Pakistan Secretariat
Fax: +92 51 920 2628

3. The Minister
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Fax: +92 51 920 7008

4. Mr. Ansar Burney
Minister for Human Rights
6 Hassan Manzil
Arambagh Road
Karachi City
Fax: + 92 21 262 3384 / + 92 21 920 5837
Tel: + 92 21 262 3382 / 83

5. His Excellency Mr. Mahmud Ali Durrani
Embassy of Pakistan
3517 International Court N.W
Washington D.C. 20008
Fax: +1 202 686 6373
Tel: +1 202 243 6500
E-mail: or or


1. Michael B. Mukasey 
U.S. Attorney General 
U.S. Department of Justice 
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 20530-0001 
Fax: +1 202 616 2278
Tel: +1 202 353 1555

2. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson
American Embassy
Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Tel: +92 51 208 0000
Fax: +92 51 227 6427

3. The Honorable Donald C. Winter
Secretary of the Navy
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1000

4.  The Honorable Claude M. Kicklighter
Inspector General 
Defense Hotline
The Pentagon
Washington D.C. 20301-1900

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (