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India agrees to release Pak prisoners

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 26, 2005 18:31 IST
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Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran on Friday said India has already agreed to release a number of Pakistani prisoners and the verification process is underway.

India will highlight the need for taking a 'humanitarian' view to resolve the issue of Indian and Pakistani prisoners, Saran added.

The issue will figure at the India-Pakistan home secretary-level talks on August 29 and 30 in New Delhi and also when he meets his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Muhammad Khan in Islamabad next week.

Sarabjit issue: India's request being examined

Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Pakistan Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman Mushahid Hussain said he was informed by Indian High Commissioner Shivshankar Menon that India wanted to release all those Pakistani prisoners whose nationality was confirmed by Islamabad.

Hussain stated this during a meeting of the committee which took place under the shadow of growing concern in India over the death sentence awarded to Sarabjit Singh on his alleged involvement in the 1990 bomb blasts in Pakistan.

Hussain, who presided over the committee's meeting, called for exclusively discussing issues relating to prisoners in the light of recent reports in the media in Pakistan alleging neglect and delay of prisoners' release due to red-tapism.

He said the Indian offer would facilitate the release of 177 Pakistani prisoners, of the total 611, whose nationality the Pakistan Foreign Office is stated to have verified.

Also read: PM to speak to Pak Prez on Sarabjit issue

There was no discussion about Sarabjit Singh in Friday's meeting. However, Hussain made a passing reference to his case by saying that as India was concerned about the fate of Sarabjit Singh, Pakistan too was concerned about the plight of its prisoners.

Asked to clarify the Indian offer, Menon later said India had been proposing to Pakistan to expedite the release of at least those whose nationalities were confirmed.

At the same time, Pakistan too had 432 Indian prisoners whose national status had been confirmed by India, Menon said, suggesting that the 2 countries could immediately release the prisoners who had been identified.

Significantly, the senate standing committee, which, for the first time, permitted Islamabad-based Indian journalists to cover its proceedings, called for the immediate release of Indian and Pakistani prisoners languishing in each other's jails.

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