India-Pakistan joint panel to push release of prisoners

June 10th, 2008 - 9:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) Four retired Indian judges Tuesday began their six-day visit to Pakistan to discuss ways of expediting the release of either country’s nationals imprisoned in the other’s country. They will visit jails in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore to meet Indian prisoners lodged there.

The judges will also participate in the second meeting of the India-Pakistan Joint Judicial Committee and discuss modalities for early release of prisoners in both countries.

Ahead of the meeting, Pakistan has decided to release 54 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture.

The four viiting Indian retired judges are Nagendra Rai, Amarjeet Chaudhary, A.S. Gill and M.A. Khan, external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters here.

The Pakistani side will include four retired judges Abdul Qadeer Chaudhary, Fazal Karim, Nasir Aslam Zahid and Mian Muhammad Ajmal.

The meeting will continue over the next five days.

The issue of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who was convicted by Pakistan’s top court for the alleged complicity in terror attacks in Multan 17 years ago, is also likely to come up for discussion.

India has pressed for clemency for Sarabjit Singh. Pakistan has yet to decide on this issue.

Last month, India and Pakistan signed a pact on easing consular access to either’s nationals detained in the other country.

The issue of prisoners will also figure prominently in discussions between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi when the latter comes to India June 27, official sources said.

The judicial committee was formed following the visit of Mukherjee to Pakistan in January 2007.

“Its mandate is to recommended steps for humane treatment and expedition of releases of prisoners of the respective countries in each other’s jails,” the spokesperson said.

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