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Pak jailbreak: Terrorist had access to mobile, Facebook

April 16, 2012 16:19 IST
Taliban militants had stormed the a jail in country's northwest primarily to free Adnan Rashid, on death row for an attempt to assassinate former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, and who was in touch with the outside world through a mobile phone, Facebook and blogs.

Over 380 other prisoners along with Rashid had escaped from the Central Jail at Bannu in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on Sunday.

Security officials have told the media that the Pakistani Taliban carried out the attack primarily to free Rashid, who was sentenced to death by a military court for the attempt on the life of Musharraf in 2003.

Rashid had used mobile phones inside death row cells of different jails where he was held after his conviction, the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying on Monday.

A former junior technician of the Pakistan Air Force, Rashid also contributed to several social networking sites like Facebook and to blogs from inside prison, the report said. He was in contact with persons outside the prison, including several journalists, through his mobile phone and even sent SMSes to the reporters, the report said.

A total of 384 prisoners, including 21 who were on death row, escaped when hundreds of Taliban fighters stormed the jail in Bannu before dawn on Sunday. The attackers focussed on the barrack where the death row prisoners were being held, officials said.  

A resident of Chota Lahor area of Swabi district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Rashid is fluent in English, Pashto and Urdu. He joined the Pakistan Air Force in 1997 and was around 24 when he was arrested in early 2004.

Interviews of Rashid, conducted when he was in prison, were uploaded on Facebook. In these interviews, he argued against what he described as flaws in the Army Act, Pakistan Air Force Act and Navy Act and urged the Supreme Court to intervene in such cases. He sent several letters to the Supreme Court chief justice, requesting him to look into flaws in cases.

In one letter to the chief justice, Rashid claimed that at the time of the assassination attempt, he was on duty in Quetta and was picked up by intelligence personnel on January 9, 2004.

When Rashid was transferred to a civil detention facility, he was initially held in a death row cell at Haripur prison, from where he was shifted to Peshawar jail. In September last year, he was shifted to the jail in Bannu. A reporter who had received messages from Rashid said that in almost all the prisons, Rashid had access to cellular phones.

Rashid had to change his number several times as he was deprived of his phone during search operations in the prisons. He had continued to plead his innocence and claimed that his only crime was that he had voted "no" in the referendum held by Musharraf during his regime.

He had pinned "high hopes" on the judiciary led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in connection with a review petition he had filed along with several other convicts.

After his petition was dismissed in March 2011, Rashid started questioning the independence of the judiciary, the report said.

Rashid recently sent a sarcastic SMS to several persons that said, "There are millions of cases pending before the high courts and the Supreme Court, 99.9 per cent of these are actually appeals against verdicts of lower courts. Billions of rupees are being spent on higher civil courts so why not this judicial system is replaced by military courts; these are swift, require no judge, no special courtrooms or bars, and most interesting court martial are unchallengeable so no more need of high and supreme courts. "It saves time and money of nation. What do you think? From a court martial convict."

Following the first of two attempts on Musharraf's life at Rawalpindi in December 2003, six PAF personnel, including Rashid, were convicted on October 3, 2005 by a field general court martial at the PAF base at Chaklala.

Besides Rashid, four others -- ex-chief technician Khalid Mehmood, ex-senior technician Karam Din, ex-corporal Nawazish and ex-junior technician Niaz Mohammad -- were sentenced to death.

Another junior technician, Nasrullah, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Their appeal was dismissed by a PAF appellate court in February 2006.

Later, their petitions were dismissed by the Lahore high court in March 2006. They filed appeals in the Supreme Court and a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Chaudhry rejected these in September 2006.

The apex court ruled that under Article 199 of the Constitution, civil courts had no jurisdiction to issue a writ against orders passed by military courts.

Review petitions filed by the convicts were dismissed by the apex court in March last year. A Pakistan army soldier Abdul Islam Siddiqui who was separately tried for the bid on Musharraf's life, was hanged in August 2005.

 

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