Pakistan, Britain in row over terror suspects

April 16th, 2009 - 12:11 am ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown Islamabad, April 15 (DPA) Pakistan and Britain were embroiled in a diplomatic row Wednesday as British officials showed reluctance to give consular access and share information about Pakistani terror suspects detained last week.
Twelve suspects, including 10 Pakistani-born students, were picked up in the northwestern cities of Liverpool and Manchester, on suspicion of having links to terrorists and planning bomb attacks in England.

Diplomatic sources here told DPA that the foreign ministry summoned the British deputy high commissioner, Ray Kyle, to demand that information be shared about the arrested suspects and that they be give consular access in London.

Instead, the high commission sent three lower-ranking diplomats led by Deputy Political Counsellor Alastair King Smith, a move that annoyed many Pakistani officials.

“We suspect British authorities of taking a precipitate decision against the alleged Pakistani students without any solid evidence to proceed against them in court,” said a senior official at Pakistan’s foreign ministry.

“They have realised their mistake and now they are trying to pass the buck to Pakistan, so that they could deport them to Pakistan and put on a brave face before the British public,” the sources said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown earlier said the authorities had been tracking the suspects for links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations. So far British officials have not been able to reveal the nature and timing of the terror plot the detainees were allegedly planning.

Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit confirmed that his office held talks with British diplomats about the Pakistani suspects, who reportedly are aged between late teens to 41.

“It is true that we have asked them to give us information and our high commissioner in London to be given consular access, but they have not given any commitment,” he said.

The arrests were prompted after Britain’s most senior counter terrorism police officer, Bob Quick, was photographed with documents giving details of the operation. Quick resigned, but the disclosure of the documents forced police to move into action and arrest the suspects.

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