Pakistani prisoners’ release slowed after terror attacks: India

August 18th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) A sudden spurt in terror attacks in the country has led to an impasse between India and Pakistan on the issue of repatriating Pakistani prisoners after the end of their jail terms, the government told the Supreme Court Monday.”There has been a stalemate because of intensified terrorist activities in the country,” Additional Solicitor General B. Dutta told the bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal.

The government’s law officer made the submission during the hearing of a petition by Pakistani prisoner Majid Khan, who has sought release from a jail in Jammu and Kashmir after serving his jail term.

The bench is also seized of a similar lawsuit by Jammu and Kashmir Panthers’ Party chief and state legislator Bhim Singh, seeking release and repatriation of Pakistani prisoners, including hardcore militants, who have served their jail terms in India.

The law officer made the submission as the bench expressed its displeasure over the government’s failure in framing a policy relating to the protocol on exchange of prisoners with Pakistan, which is hampering the interests of both countries.

“More than six months have passed since February but you (the external affairs ministry) have been unable to take a policy decision,” said the bench, which also included Justices G.S. Singhvi and J.M. Panchal.

“The exchange of prisoners will be in the national interest,” it said.

“We cannot throw them (prisoners whose term have ended) out. Deportation does not mean that,” the bench said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has recommended to the central government Khan’s deportation after he completed his six-year jail term for illegally crossing the border.

The law officer also said that there was no response from the Pakistani side on the issue of repatriation of prisoners who have overstayed in jails here.

“We cannot proceed for deportation without hearing from the other side,” Dutta said adding that Khan was a terrorist belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen.

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