NEW DELHI: After spending twenty years in Indian jails, a frail looking, teary eyed Dr Khalil Chishty was wheeled off the President’s special plane, and on to Pakistani soil.
Dr Chishty, who was allowed by the Indian Supreme Court on humanitarian basis to visit Pakistan, was flown from New Delhi to Islamabad aboard the President’s special plane. He was received by Federal Minister of Interior Rehman Malik at the air port.
Speaking to media men, he thanked President Zardari for his efforts in bringing him back to Pakistan, before being driven away in Malik’s car.
According to human rights activist, Ansar Burney, Dr Chishty will meet with the President and the Prime Minister in the morning, before returning to Karachi on Wednesday evening.
Earlier, the octogenarian Pakistani virologist arrived in Delhi from Ajmer – where he spent 20 years in incarceration – via Jaipur. He will fly back to his home in Karachi, via Islamabad.
An Indian Supreme Court order in April this year and a consequent order from the same court last week have facilitated Dr Chishty’s journey to meet his family members in Pakistan. He will have to report back on November 1.
For Dr Chishty – who was sentenced to life imprisonment on January 31, 2011 after a protracted trial for his alleged involvement in a murder in 1992 – this is the first time in two decades that he crossed the Rajasthan border.
Local newspapers described the grief of the situation as he left the state in which he had been incarcerated for two decades.
Dr Chisty told the media: “I am thankful to you all. You all have been very kind.”
His brother Jameel Chishty was travelling with him while his son Tariq joined him Delhi.
“First, I will go to a mosque to thank the Almighty. Then I will meet my dear ones at home,” Dr Chishty said when asked what he would first do when he is home. When asked about the chances of clemency, he said, “I have faith in the goodness of the people and fairness of the judiciary here.”
Speaking to the media in Ajmer, Dr Chishty was confident that he would be forgiven. “I am innocent. I will be happier if I am pardoned,” he said.
A Special Leave Petition against his conviction is pending in the Indian Supreme Court while a clemency petition is pending before the Rajasthan Governor.
President Zardari’s plane leaves for India to bring Chishty home
Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced on Tuesday that a plane, provided by President Asif Ali Zardari, has left for India to bring Dr Chishty to Pakistan.
Speaking to the media, Malik said, “President Zardari has been very kind, he has given his plane to carry Dr Chishty back home.”
He also said that President Zardari had discussed Dr Chishty’s case with the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Ajmer Sharif.