ISLAMABAD - Around 2,409 Pakistani nationals languishing in eight jails of United Arab Emirates (UAE) and facing imprisonment in different minor and major crimes. As per information officially shared by UAE side in November last year, there were approximately 2,800 Pakistani nationals imprisoned in jails of UAE on both minor and major offenses but on basis of interviews conducted by Community Welfare Attache (CWA) and other officials during their regular visits to jails and their interaction with jail authorities, it is estimated that at present, there are about 2,409 Pakistani nationals imprisoned in UAE jails.

In Al Ain jail, the number of Pakistani prisoners was 247, out of which 148 were convicted, 89 under trial, seven waiting for deportation and seven female prisoners, a data issued here revealed. In Abu Dhabi jail, the number of Pakistani prisoners was 554, out of which 337 were convicted, 166 under trial and 51 were waiting for deportation.

In Dubai jail, the number of Pakistani prisoners was 852, out of which 25 were females and 18 were waiting for deportation.

In Ras ul Khaimah jail, the total number of Pakistani prisoners was 105, out of which two were females, 70 convicted, 35 under trial and one waiting for deportation while in Umm Al Quain jail, the total number of Pakistani prisoners was 29, out of which one was female, 17 convicted,

12 under trial and two prisoners were waiting for deportation.

1167 have been imprisoned in minor offenses

Similarly, in Sharjah jail, the total number of Pakistani prisoners was 367, out of which 45 were females, while in Fujairah jail, the total number of Pakistani prisoners was 33, out of which two were females.

In Ajman jail, the total number of Pakistani prisoners was 222, out of which 12 were females. The data further revealed that out of 2409 prisoners, the Mission has offence-wise data of 1902 prisoners, compiled by our Community Welfare Attaches during their visits to the local jails.

As per their details, 735 have been imprisoned in major offenses while 1167 have been imprisoned in minor offenses. In offenses including drugs, narcotics and prohibited medicines 317 Pakistanis have been imprisoned, 227 imprisoned in theft, robbery and stealing offenses, 18 Pakistanis have been imprisoned in bounce checks and financial crimes while 63 Pakistanis have been imprisoned in murder cases.

About steps taken to provide legal assistance to Pakistani prisoners, the data revealed that officers and staff of embassy/consulate and officials of CWA Wing visit the jails and interact with prisoners, listen to their genuine concerns and take up those respectively with the UAE authorities. The Mission also assists in provision of consular assistance, legal guidance and collects information about prisoners’ cases and sentences and maintains a regular record of interviewed prisoners.

The Mission makes best efforts to arrange meeting of relatives with jail inmates and occasionally deposits money from Pakistan Community Welfare and Education Fund (PCWE) in the accounts of prisoners to buy telephone credit to contact their families. Legal assistance/guidance is provided by the Mission to a number of Pakistani prisoners every month. In some deserving cases, the Embassy engages lawyers from PCWE Fund of the Mission and facilitates families of prisoners to engage local lawyers and legal firms on their requests.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Syed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari had hinted early release of Pakistani prisoners languishing in UAE jails in minor cases.

“Pakistani inmates imprisoned in petty crimes will be released and repatriated soon from the emirates,” he said. He said the government was in contact with the UAE authorities to get Pakistani prisoners released at the earliest, especially those involved in petty offenses.  The Ministry was making efforts and discussing possibilities with authorities concerned abroad to ensure release of inmates locked up in foreign prisons on minor crimes, he said.

The efforts had been intensified after recent visit of  Zulfikar Bukhari to the emirates where he met with higher officials  in Dubai and both sides agreed to form a joint committee for resolving the issues of Pakistanis languishing in UAE jails.