Pakistani security agencies are holding at least 700 people indefinitely without trial in connection with the ‘war on terror’, the country's top law officer informed the supreme court on Thursday.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir made the disclosure before a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry that was hearing the case of seven men detained without charge by intelligence agencies since May 2010.
Qadir said the 700 suspects were arrested in the lawless tribal belt, where the army has been fighting the Taliban and other groups.
He said the suspects could not be freed till operations end in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a semi-autonomous zone bordering Afghanistan.
"There are about 700 people detained in the tribal areas and they cannot be released until the ongoing military operation in those regions concludes...The detained men can be handed over to authorities only after the operation is halted in the tribal regions," he said.
Qadir did not say how long the people had been in custody. The apex court expressed dissatisfaction over a report submitted by the Secretary of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on the seven men who have been detained without charge.
On Monday, the Chief Justice had directed intelligence agencies to release the seven men if they were unable by present evidence against them but they continue to be in custody.