Islamabad, Apr 19: Pakistan is working on legal formalities to deport the members of Osama bin Laden's family “as early as possible”, the country's deputy interior minister said yesterday.
The 12-member family, including bin Laden's three widows, eight children and one grandchild, had originally been due to leave overnight yesterday, but their departure was held up because their passports were not ready, their lawyer said.
The 9/11 mastermind's family were detained by Pakistani authorities after bin Laden was killed in a US special forces operation in the garrison town of Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, last May.
Deputy interior minister Imtiaz Safdar Warraich said the authorities would complete the legal formalities for their removal “as early as possible” but could not put a timeframe on the deportation.
“We will follow the (court) decision and fulfil all legal procedures in this regard,” Warraich told AFP.
“The required documents are being prepared and it is being done swiftly. It is not just an issue of deportation, but also there is an issue of acceptance.” Some security officials said the matter could linger on for days due to procedural issues.
Earlier, lawyer Muhammad Aamir told AFP the family were expected to receive their passports later today and may be able to leave for Saudi Arabia later in the day. Two of bin Laden's widows are Saudi nationals and the third is from Yemen.
A Saudi embassy official told AFP they were still waiting for the names of the family members from the Pakistani interior ministry.
And a senior Pakistani security official said Pakistan was waiting for approval from the Saudi and Yemeni governments for the deportation to proceed.
“No timeframe can be given at the moment,” he told AFP, adding that discussions were ongoing. “There is a kind of understanding but things need to be finalised.”