ISLAMABAD - Over 9000 Pakistanis are languishing in jails of different countries for different crimes with Saudi Arabia detaining the highest number of 2,795 Pakistanis, The Nation has learnt reliably. 

A country-wide data of prisoners and detainees in foreign countries exclusively available with The Nation shows that at present a total of 8,692,450 Pakistanis are living abroad and of them, 9,133 are languishing in jails. Out of them, 2,795 are in jail in Saudi Arabia, 1,650 in the UAE, 549 in India, 435 in Greece, 248 in China, 231 in Hong Kong, 412 in the United Kingdom and the rest in other countries. There are 2,600,000 Pakistanis living at present in Saudi Arabia, 1,300,000 in the UAE, 10,000 in India, 70,000 in Greece, 15,000 in China and 18,094 in Hong Kong.

The data reveals that 289 Pakistanis are languishing in Afghanistan jails, four in jails of Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, one in Australia, 36 in Austria, nine in Slovak Republic, two in Azerbaijan, one in Georgia, 110 in Bahrain, 42 in Bangladesh, one in Belarus, six in Belgium and Luxembourg, seven in Bulgaria, three in Cambodia, four in Canada, 248 in China, 231 in Hong Kong, one in Czech Republic, 19 in Denmark, one in Egypt, 67 in France, 18 in Germany, 435 in Greece, 22 in Hungary, 549 in India, 15 in Indonesia, 26 in Iran, 211 in Iraq, two in Ireland, 231 in Italy, 10 in Japan, six in Jordan, one in Kazakhstan, seven in Kenya, three in Uganda, 243 in Kuwait, five in Kyrgyzstan, one in Lebanon, nine in Cyprus, 18 in Malaysia, 12 in Maldives, two in Myanmar, 24 in Nepal, 25 in Netherlands, 19 in Norway and Iceland, 657 in Oman, six in Philippines, four in Poland, Latvia and Estonia, three in Portugal, 70 in Qatar, six in Romania and Moldova, 10 in Russia, 2,795 in Saudi Arabia, 10 in Serbia and Montenegro, two in Singapore, 47 in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland, four in South Korea, 146 in Spain, 87 in Sri Lanka, five in Sweden, two in Finland, eight in Switzerland, three in Syria and Tajikistan each, 14 in Tanzania, 83 in Thailand, 69 in turkey, 1,650 in United Arab Emirates, 412 in United Kingdom, 11 in Scotland, 44 in the United States of America and one in Ukraine.

Interestingly, Pakistan could not get its 11 citizens repatriated from Maldives despite a blanket presidential pardon in drug trafficking cases by the Maldivian president some two years back, the documents further reveal. President of the Republic of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had undertaken a two-day state visit to Pakistan in the first week of May 2015, and before coming to Pakistan, as a goodwill gesture, he had granted pardon to the Pakistani nationals serving life sentences in Maldives over charges of drug trafficking but the Pakistani authorities could not secure their repatriation despite a lapse of over two years.

The documents say that the whole repatriation process started on the application by a Pakistani prisoner Aftab Ahmad, detained in Maldives, in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, stating that as he was suffering from Hepatitis-C for which no proper treatment was available in Maldives. He had submitted to the Supreme Court that he may be transferred back to Pakistan. The SC directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit a report and the ministry obtained the report from Pakistan high commission in Male.

The Ministry of Interior had requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to stop any progress on the matter of presidential pardon to 11 Pakistani prisoners serving sentence in Maldives after reports emerged that a number of convicted persons, who had been brought to Pakistan from jails abroad, managed to get themselves freed with the help of government officials including interior ministry officials, without completing their sentence in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities conveyed the same to the Pakistan’s mission in Male. The Foreign Office received a circular of the Ministry of Interior about stopping all progress on the transfer of offenders on March 16, 2015, the documents further reveals.

However, in pursuance of the SC instructions, the Pakistani High Commissioner in Male discussed the matter with the Maldivian authorities. According to the documents, Hassan Zilaal, Deputy Commissioner of Prisons Maldives, met with the Pakistani High Commissioner and said that they had requested for a presidential pardon to Aftab Ahmad owing to his seriously ill health. The Pakistani High Commissioner in Male also suggested to the Maldivian authorities that the cases of other Pakistani prisoners may also be raised for the grant of a presidential pardon in view of the then visit of the president of Maldives to Pakistan. The issue of pardon was raised by the Pakistani High Commissioner in January 2015. On April 28, 2015, a few days before the visit of the president of Maldives to Pakistan, the Pakistani High Commissioner in Male informed the Foreign Office that he was called by the Minister at the President’s Office, Mohammed Hussain Shareef, who gave him the news that presidential pardon had been granted to 11 Pakistani prisoners as a goodwill gesture. Subsequently, the High Commissioner asked the Pakistani authorities to make arrangements for repatriation of the 11 Pakistani nationals.

The documents reveal that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought the decision of the Ministry of Interior on the issue in view of the restraining orders in progress on the matter of the offenders. To the astonishment of the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Interior could not take a decision in this regard. The matter is still pending with the interior ministry and the efforts of the Foreign Office and the Pakistan High Commission in Male could not bear fruit.