State Minister for Foreign Affairs Malik Hamad Khan on Monday denied rumours that Pakistan executed an ‘under-the-table’ deal to facilitate the release of Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh and Pakistani inmate Doctor Khalil Chishti one after another.
“Both cases are completely different from each other. The Indian Supreme Court (SC) granted bail to Dr Chishti, while Surjeet completed his term in espionage case,” asserted Hamad, while responding to a query posed by lawmakers in the National Assembly.
Pakistan released Surjeet, who spent 27 years in Kot Lakhpat jail, last month while the Indian SC granted a bail to Dr Chishti after President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to India in April this year.
Khan also informed the House that currently, around 81 of 428 Pakistani prisoners in India remain in various jails in Indian-administered Kashmir. Also, around 85 Pakistani fishermen languish in Indian prisons, he added.
When asked by MNA Sheikh Roheel Asghar as to what the government had done to bring this issue in bilateral discussions with India, Hamad Khan said that Pakistan continues to press for their early release.
“Our mission is in constant contact with the Indian Home Department to take up their cases at the earliest. We hope Indian officials will expedite their legal process for early release of prisoners,” revealed Hamad.
Pakistan Railways debts
To another query, Pakistan Railways (PR) Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour informed lawmakers that around Rs82 billion are still outstanding against PR.
“Railways has borrowed Rs42 billion from foreign banks and companies,” revealed Bilour.
According to Bilour, PR is currently paying around Rs30 billion to its employees in salaries and pensions. On the other hand, it generates around Rs10-15 billion in revenues.
“Thus, one-third of the department’s deficit could be originating from this difference,” pointed out Bilour.
At the same time, paucity of locomotives is another reason for the decline in services, highlighted Bilour in his response.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.
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