ISLAMABAD - The federal government has di­rected all foreign missions abroad and departments concerned to en­sure that only those prisoners hav­ing verified Pakistani citizenship are allowed repatriation to the country amid the COVID-19 out­break worldwide.

The Ministry of Interior through a notification yesterday said that Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feder­al Investigation Agency (FIA), Na­tional Database & Registration Au­thority (NADRA) and Directorate General of Immigration & Pass­ports should ensure compliance that only those prisoners whose Pakistani nationality has been duly verified should be brought back through the country.

For this purpose, the ministry has bifurcated Pakistani prison­ers, who are languishing in jails abroad, into three categories for their onward repatriation to Pa­kistan.

The notification says that cases where prisoners are having pos­session of valid Pakistani CNICs (computerized national identity cards) and passports are to be re­patriated, their Pakistani nation­ality and passport should be duly verified by the mission concerned and Passport Office

Those cases where prisoners are in possession of valid CNICs but don’t have passports are to be de­ported to Pakistan, an emergen­cy travel document (ETD) would be issued after due verification of their nationality, CNICs and pass­ports.

Those cases where prisoners are neither in possession of valid CNICs nor passports are to be re­patriated, the concerned mission will fill the application form of the individual for onward trans­mission to Ministry of Interior through Foreign Office immediate­ly for further verification of his na­tionality and permission.

Earlier this week, Special As­sistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari said in a Twitter post that two special flights, arranged by UAE government, have brought back 400 Pakistani prisoners from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“In the backdrop of prevailing situation following the outbreak of COVID-19, the UAE Government today released 400 Pakistani pris­oners in line with the understand­ing reached between Government of Pakistan and the UAE,” said the Embassy of Pakistan in Abu Dhabi had in a statement issued on April 14. It said that these prisoners were serving their term in the UAE jails for minor offences.