India, Pakistan agree to release prisoners: No mention of Dawood extradition as talks end
New Delhi, August 30:
Cooperation between Indian and Pakistani agencies in fighting terror, the release of fishermen and civilian prisoners and a mechanism to check drug trafficking were among measures agreed today at the end of two-day talks between officials of both sides.
However, the belated joint statement issued at the end of talks between the home secretaries of the two countries made no mention of India’s demand for the extradition of mob boss Dawood Ibrahim and other criminals allegedly hiding in Pakistan. Similarly, the Pakistani delegation led by Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah did not press the case for detecting Pakistanis suspected to be involved in terrorist activities and reportedly living in India. Realising that some differences and controversial issues could spill out into the open, both Shah and his Indian counterpart VK Duggal refused to take questions from the media after reading out the statement.
The statement, which was delayed by over four hours, said India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would cooperate in the fight against terrorism. It reiterated the commitment of both countries to provide immediate notification of arrests made by either side, to provide consular access to all people within three months of arrest and to release prisoners after completion of their sentence and nationality verification. As a first step to translate this into action, both countries agreed to release fishermen and civilian prisoners who have completed their jail sentences after confirming their nationality on September 12. Officials in India’s home ministry said some 600 civilian prisoners and fishermen were lodged in each other’s jails. Emphasising the need for cooperation between CBI and FIA, both sides agreed that experts from the two agencies would meet at mutually convenient dates to work out modalities on areas they could work on. “Both agencies will address concerns relating to terrorism and drug trafficking,” said an official. It was also agreed that an MoU to continue cooperation between the narcotics control agencies of both countries would be finalised.
Indian diplomats meet Sarabjit
Indian diplomats met Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national sentenced to death by Pakistan on charges of being a spy, at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpath jail amid high security on Tuesday. “Two members of the high commission went to Lahore to meet Singh,” an official of the Indian High Commission said. The official refused to give details, saying the diplomats had not returned from Lahore. “Visa counsellor Deepak Kaul and visa attache S C Sharma went to Lahore to meet Singh,” he said. — HNS