M A I N   N E W S

India, Pak to free 1,100 prisoners on Sept 12
Rajeev Sharma and S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
India and Pakistan today took a significant step forward in addressing the humanitarian issue of prisoners by agreeing to release all fishermen and civilian prisoners on September 12, decided to meet again to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the social menace of drug trafficking, but failed to cut much ice on the political issue of signing an Extradition Treaty.

Over 400 Indian prisoners in Pakistan and more than 700 Pakistani prisoners in India are expected to be freed on September 12 because of this agreement reached between the Home Secretaries of the two countries today, a Pakistani diplomatic source told The Tribune.

The Home Secretaries also decided to provide immediate notification of arrests made by either side, give consular access to all persons within three months of arrest and release prisoners immediately after completion of sentence and nationality verification. They agreed to implement the decisions arrived at by the Foreign Secretaries in December 2004 on prisoners.

India reiterated its suggestion of signing an Extradition Treaty with Pakistan, an issue which has failed to gather since 2001 when the then Union Home Minister L K Advani had first raised the issue with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf when he visited India. The Pakistani side did not have much to say on this except for telling the Indians that they would discuss the matter in-house and then revert back to New Delhi. Diplomatic circles here are well aware of Pakistan’s problems in signing an extradition treaty with India.

The second round of Home Secretary- level talks between India and Pakistan on Terrorism and Drug Trafficking, which concluded here today, took three important decisions as follows:

The two countries to release on September 12, 2005 all fishermen and civilian prisoners who have completed their sentence and whose national status has been confirmed.

Experts from India’s Central Bureau of Investigation and Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency to meet at mutually convenient dates in the near future to work out modalities for the implementation of the arrangement for cooperation between the two agencies agreed earlier.

Narcotics control agencies of the two countries to continue cooperation and exchange of information and agreed that the Memorandum of Understanding between them will be finalised and signed shortly. The MOU aims at having a regular institutional mechanism in place to intensify mutual cooperation and liaison on drug control matters.

A Joint Press Statement, issued at the end of the two-day talks, said both sides reiterated their commitment to combat terrorism and re-emphasised the need for effective steps for the complete elimination of this menace. The Indian and the Pakistani delegations were led by Mr V K Duggal and Syed Kamal Shah respectively.

During their talks for over five hours today, the Indian Home Secretary forcefully took up the issue of existence of terrorists training camps in Pakistan and also presence of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in Pakistan. The Indian delegation insisted on mentioning this. The Pakistani side went on a denial mode on both these issues.

After much deliberations, both sides agreed not to go into the specifics in the joint press statement and instead merely stated that “both sides reiterated their commitment to combat terrorism and re-emphasized the need for effective steps for the complete elimination of this menace.”

On the exchange of civilian prisoners too, the two sides had differences on the number of prisoners to be released by each country. Pakistan insisted that India should release more number of Pakistani prisoners lodged in Indian jails as they claimed that they had released a large number of prisoners in the recent past.



Pak Interior Secretary visits Tihar Jail
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
The visiting Pakistani delegation, led by Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah, today visited the high security Tihar Jail here and met two Pakistani prisoners lodged there.

Syed Shah and his colleagues, including Pakistan High Commissioner to India Aziz Ahmad Khan, met Majid Khan and Mohammad Wasim, who are lodged in Jail No.1 of Tihar Jail for the past two years, and spent about one hour there.

The visit of the Pakistani delegation to the Tihar Jail assumes great significance and the two neighbours today agreed to exchange civilian prisoners, who have completed their sentence and whose verifications have been done.


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