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Talon

Afghans free last Pakistani POWs

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Afghans free last Pakistani POWs

More than 360 Pakistanis who fought with the Taleban in Afghanistan have been freed from jail there and are heading for home.

The prisoners are the last of 2-3,000 Pakistanis captured by Northern Alliance fighters in the American-led military campaign at the end of 2001.

Once back in Pakistan, they will be subjected to further interrogation about their links to the Taleban.

They will be freed if deemed no longer a threat to Pakistan's security.

No glory

The Pakistani prisoners left the notorious Pul-i-Charki prison near Kabul heading for home after what for most of them has been a grim detention.

Many of them originally arrived in Afghanistan, lured from religious schools in Pakistan, by promises of glory, fighting holy war against the Northern Alliance and their American backers.

Instead of glory, most found abject misery when they were captured by the Northern Alliance.

Many did not survive the beatings, overcrowding and suffocation in containers.

As they left Kabul on Sunday the prisoners said conditions improved when they were transferred to Pul-i-Charki.

It was once the scene of the torture and murder of opponents to the Soviet-backed regimes in the 1970s and eighties.

The Pakistanis were released after an agreement last month between President Karzai and the Pakistani leader, President Musharraf.

Some Afghans, guilty of minor misdemeanours, are also being released from Pakistani jails.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3650088.stm

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