ISLAMABAD  -   Pakistan is set to release Indian prisoner Hamid Ansari in the coming weeks as he completes his three-year term on December 15, officials said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Ansari will be sent back to India by mid-January.

One official said: “We have to follow certain formalities before handing someone back to his/her country. It will take a few weeks. Within a month, he will back to India.”

Another official said Pakistan wanted to improve ties with India and had been making positive gestures to achieve the goal. “We even granted India the permission to send spy Kulbushan Jadhav’s family to meet him. This is a clear message of peace.”

Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured that he will look into the case of the 33-year-old Indian prisoner, who has been languishing in a Pakistani jail after being arrested for illegally entering the country from Afghanistan, reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online.

Mumbai resident Hamid Nehal Ansari was arrested in Pakistan in 2012. He is currently lodged in the Peshawar Central Prison after being sentenced by a military court to three years’ imprisonment for possessing a fake Pakistani identity card.

“I do not know about it…We will do our best,” Premier Khan told a group of Indian journalists when asked about Ansari in Islamabad. The journalists had come to cover the Kartarpur corridor ground breaking on November 28.

The Peshawar High Court yesterday granted one month to the government to send back Hamid Ansari to India after he completes his jail term.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Roohul Amin and Justice Qalandar Ali Khan, heard an appeal filed by Ansari through a senior lawyer.

The petition said that the federal government had not taken any steps for his release. Ansari’s lawyer said that his client’s prison term will end on December 15 and he should be released on the morning of December 16.

Following the court orders, a section officer of the interior minister appeared told the court that it will take them a month to complete the process for his return and will hand him over to Indian officials at Wagah border.

The court was told that the government of Pakistan had signed a treaty with India regarding the exchange of nationals under which both the governments have at least one month to initiate and complete the process of repatriation.

The Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy has appealed to the Pakistani authorities and Prime Minister Imran Khan, to release Hamid Ansari on December 16.

The Indian chapter of the Forum, in a press statement, said “We believe that Hamid Ansari’s immediate release will send a positive message as it will come in the background of the opening up of the Kartarpur Corridor.”

Meanwhile, a four-member Kashmiri delegation and members of the Kashmir American Council, Washington called on the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi here yesterday.

The Foreign Minister appreciated the efforts of the Kashmiri Diaspora in raising the Jammu and Kashmir dispute on international forums.

While highlighting report of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Jammu and Kashmir, the Foreign Minister stated that the UN has also recognized the gravity of the situation of human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and condemned the deplorable human rights record of the Indian occupation forces in Kashmir, a friend ministry statement said.

The Report calls for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the gross human rights violations in Kashmir, which had been a consistent demand of Pakistan.

Qureshi stressed upon the role of Kashmiri diaspora in raising the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

He maintained that Kashmiris, being the aggrieved party to the conflict, need to put up sustained efforts to highlight the human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces.

The Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s unflinching political, moral and diplomatic support to the just cause of Kashmiris for the right to self-determination.

He said that Pakistan seeks peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

 

 

 

SHAFQAT ALI