A curious item in the Pakistan newspapers this morning caught my eye. Details differ according to which version you read, but according to Dawn and The News, six women, all members of the Jordanian royal family, are due to be handed over to the Jordanian Embassy in Islamabad tomorrow following the death of their husbands in a Coalition airstrike several months ago.
The women were handed by tribesmen into the custody of Javed Ibrahim Paracha, a former member of Pakistan's National Assembly and now chairman of the World Prisoners Relief Commission of Pakistan, based in Kohat. His organisation specialises in repatriating foreigners who have become stranded in Pakistan.
The Dawn report says that there are six women plus children, all the widows of Jordanian Arabs who were fighting against the Coalition in Afghanistan. The report adds that the women are members of the Jordanian royal family.
Their menfolk, says the report, were killed in a bombing raid on militant hideouts in Orakzai and Kurram Agencies a few months ago.
A report in The News is more specific. It says the group includes five princesses and an eight-month old prince and that their father, named as Prince Rafiq, was recently killed in Afghanistan. It names the five princesses as Hiyyam, Fatima, Zainab, Khadija, Zuhra and the young prince as Ahmed. The report added that one of the Jordanian princesses, Hiyyam, is wife of Prince Nasir bin Saleh, who was killed in Afghanistan recently and now there was no male member in her family so she had decided to leave for Jordan.
After Mr Paracha contacted the Jordanian Embassy, an official spoke to the women and confirmed their identity and made arrangements for them to return to Jordan. They will be handed into the Embassy's custody tomorrow.
I can find no reference to Prince Nasir bin Saleh or Prince Rafiq, so cannot be sure they are members of Jordan's royal family. Anyone have any more details?
PS A small number of Jordanian military personnel run and guard a highly respected field hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif, but do not take part in offensive operations in Afghanistan.
Update: At a press conference in Peshawar yesterday, Javed Ibrahim Paracha said that although the woman claimed that she belonged to the Jordanian royal family, the ambassador refuted her claim stating that no member of the royal family had ever fought against the NATO forces in Afghanistan. Mr Paracha added that around 50 family members of deceased Arab fighters had approached him for help with repatriation to their respective countries.