- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (UPI) Afghanistan's Taliban regime yesterday issued one-month visas to several lawyers so they could enter the country to represent eight international aid workers charged with preaching Christianity.
Atif Ali Khan, a Pakistani, and his associate, Arshed Ali, were selected as counsel for the eight Shelter Now International defendants and their embassies, with the consent of the Taliban supreme court.
Mr. Khan earned his degree from American University in Washington after graduating in Islamic law from the International Islamic University in Islamabad. He has also worked with the Organization of Islamic Conference and the United Nations.
"The Taliban have been very cooperative lately," Mr. Khan said. "The Foreign Ministry had asked their consulate in Peshawar to issue me a visa." He said the Taliban has assured him full cooperation, including access to the detainees and court officials in Kabul.
The fundamentalist Taliban arrested 24 aid workers of Shelter Now International last month on a charge of trying to spread Christianity, which is illegal in the country. Eight are foreign nationals Americans, Germans, Australians and the rest are Afghans.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad on Tuesday failed in its efforts to facilitate a visit to Kabul by Mr. Khan to meet his clients through the use of an International Committee of the Red Cross aircraft. The plane, which was to return to Islamabad the same evening, was denied entry into Afghan airspace.
"Although we have been assured full access to the detainees whenever we are in Kabul, I have had no communication with them due to the lack of such facilities there." Mr. Khan said.

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