India-Pakistan pact likely on consular access to prisoners

May 21st, 2008 - 12:52 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, May 21 (IANS) Pakistan and India are expected to sign a pact Wednesday to provide consular access to nationals of their country imprisoned by the other. The agreement also says that if these prisoners have completed their jail terms, they would be freed within a month to enable them to return to their country of origin, The News reported Wednesday.

“In the past, both countries have seen prisoners confined in prisons forgotten for decades, many dying in captivity or losing their senses without being allowed any consular access even if they were identified as nationals of either country,” the newspaper added.

The agreement is expected to be a part of the joint statement to be released on Wednesday at the conclusion of the review of the composite dialogue process by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee.

“There is a possibility that some proposals that were exchanged on Tuesday between foreign secretaries Salman Bashir and Shivshankar Menon could also become part of the joint statement,” The News said.

Pakistan, during the secretary-level review talks, put forward about 15 proposals on the table, with India also bringing forth around four.

“Though this was the first formal meeting between the two secretaries, officials say both hit it off quite well and Salman Bashir found his Indian counterpart ‘very positive and very receptive’. Informal talks between them started over dinner ‘and good conversation’ on Monday night and they met formally on Tuesday morning before being joined by their respective delegations,” The News said.

Pakistan has also flagged some proposals in the realm of peace and security as it feels that it is of mutual importance for strategic stability in the region.

“We want to sincerely move forward and we really need to consider the nuclear CBMs that had been proposed earlier,” The News quoted an official as saying.

Both sides wanted not only a review of the last round but also to make the process more forward-looking. The two secretaries wanted their two foreign ministers to have more productive talks.

“Again both secretaries assured each other that they wished to see progress on all segments of the composite dialogue. They renewed their commitment for better understanding so that they could together take further steps for full normalisation of relationship,” the newspaper quote the official as saying.

When asked if the Indian side was confused on Pakistan’s latest stand on the Kashmir issue, the official said Jammu and Kashmir was discussed at length.

“Pakistan reiterated very clearly its principled position that the issue needs to be settled through the UN resolutions and a just settlement, which must be in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. However, we have agreed to continue to exchange views on the issue and explore ways and means to work towards a just settlement acceptable to Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir,” the official said.

“This is without prejudice to the principled position of the two sides. We stand by our original position but need to explore ways and means for a durable solution,” he added.

“However, there were no easy replies to political questions as to where President Pervez Musharraf’s out of the box proposals stand and what the government has in the way of fresh proposals after rejecting Musharraf’s proposals as ‘half baked’,” The News said.

“We do not have a closed mind. We are serious about new ideas,” was the best that the official had to offer on this.

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Posted in South Asia |

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