Pakistan and India will simultaneously exchange lists of prisoners in other’s custody in Islamabad and New Delhi on Thursday.
Pakistan will hand over its list to an officer of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad at the Foreign Office.
According to Article (i) of the Agreement on Consular Access signed between Pakistan and India on May 21, 2008, both countries are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody on the first of January and July every year.
The agreement also states that both sides are required to provide each other information on the arrest of and consular access to prisoners within 90 days of an arrest.
According to the list India gave to Pakistan on January 1, 2010, there are 633 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, of whom 509 are civil prisoners and 124 are fishermen. However, the Pakistan foreign ministry claims that there are 923 Pakistanis still in Indian jails. India has yet to provide consular access to over 100 Pakistani prisoners. These Indians and Pakistanis have been imprisoned on charges of spying or illegal entry.
Foreign office sources said that the list provided by India earlier this year does not include 18 Pakistan Army personnel, who were made Prisoners of War in 1965 and 1971. They said that Pakistan had handed over the list of these 18 Pakistanis to the Indian High Commission on December 22, 2009.
Sources said that subsequent reminders were sent to the Indian External Affairs Ministry but there was no response from the Indian side. The last reminder was sent on May 11 and the issue was even raised by Pakistan in the recent foreign secretary-level talks and in the bilateral meeting of Pakistani and Indian interior ministers during the Saarc interior ministers’ conference.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2010.