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Pak, India considering proposal to release disabled, elderly

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Press Trust of India Islamabad
Pakistan and India are considering a proposal to release elderly and disabled prisoners on humanitarian grounds, a media report said today.

The idea was discussed during meetings between officials of the two sides, showing existence of communication amidst tensions along the Line of Control, Dawn online reported, citing official documents of the interior ministry and the Foreign Office.

"During high-level discussions in past weeks, officials from both countries deliberated over a plan to release imprisoned citizens that fall into the following three categories - prisoners over 70 years of age, mentally disabled and hearing or speech impaired persons and female prisoners," the paper said.

Citing documents obtained by DawnNews, a TV channel owned by the same group, it said Ministry of External Affairs had summoned Pakistan's High Commissioner in New Delhi a few days ago and proposed that both the countries should accelerate the process to exchange prisoners in the three categories.

"In a meeting held in Bangkok on December 26 last year, the National Security Advisers (NSAs) of India and Pakistan had also agreed to take steps for the imminent release of prisoners who are elderly or disabled or females, on humanitarian grounds, the documents show," it said.

It said the NSAs had also agreed on a proposal to revive the mechanism of Pakistan-India Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners, which has been inactive since October 2013.

It was also agreed during meetings between officials of the two countries that a list of disabled and older-than-70 inmates would be compiled and swapped on an emergency basis.

Delegations of doctors and medical experts from both countries will also travel to the other country to examine the mental and physical health of such prisoners to ascertain their eligibility for release, it added.

The Indian High Commission here in its meetings with the Foreign Office officials has stressed that such lists be prepared on a priority basis, the paper said, adding officials from the two sides are in touch to finalise the bilateral visits that are required before the lists can be drafted.

Citing Interior ministry sources, it said at least 40 Pakistani citizens are imprisoned in Indian jails who fit the criteria of the three categories.

Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said that proposals to exchange prisoners had been under consideration, however "they could not be implemented due to LoC [ceasefire violations] and tensions between the two countries" so far.

He said the proposals are currently being discussed at the interior ministry level.

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First Published: Jan 30 2018 | 10:45 PM IST

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