ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has established a cell to provide assistance to Pakistanis jailed abroad.
The cell has been established on the orders of the Supreme Court given on Thursday. The cell will be headed by Additional Secretary Hassan Javed of the Foreign Office and will work in collaboration with the Interior Ministry. The apex court was hearing petitions filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and former PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar. The bench, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, also included Justice Tariq Pervez and Justice Saeed Khan Khosa.
Funds will be sanctioned for the cell, so that delays are not caused in the release and repatriation of prisoners. At the last hearing, Additional Attorney General K K Agha had said that financial issues were one of the hurdles in bringing back Pakistanis held abroad. However, on Thursday Secretary Finance Salman Siddiqui assured financial support while Secretary Interior Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry also told the court that it would assist in the repatriation of Pakistan.
All Pakistani missions abroad have been informed about the formation of the cell which would remain in contact with the families of those jailed in different countries. Families of prisoners can also contact the cell for assistance. The relevant details and addresses will be updated on the foreign ministry website soon.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2010.