A week after Hamid's repatriation, India repatriates two Pakistani nationals

Imran Warsi and Abdullah Shah at Wagah-Attari border. Photograph:( WION )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 26, 2018, 07.26 PM (IST) Sidhant Sibal

India on Wednesday repatriated two Pakistan — Imran Warsi and Abdullah Shah to Pakistan. They were repatriated via Wagah border to Pakistan. 

Imran Qureshi Warsi, a Karachi resident was in an Indian jail for last 10 years on charges of a fake passport. He had come to India on a valid visa in 2004 and fell in love with an Indian girl and overstayed. Abdullah Shah, a resident of Swat of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province had crossed over to India in 2017 to meet Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan. Abdullah is autistic. 

Speaking to media at the Wagah border, Abdullah Shah said, "I love you India. I will come to India again. Will meet Shah Rukh Khan. Shah Rukh Khan is in my heart. I am happy today. It was my dream to meet Shah Rukh"

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The development comes just a week after Pakistan released Hamid Nehal Ansari who was in a Pakistani jail for 6 years. He went to Pakistan on fake IDs from Afghanistan to meet a girl who he fell in love on Facebook. 

The repatriation has highlighted the issue of Indian and Pakistani prisoners languishing in each other's jails.

India and Pakistan exchange list of civilian prisoners and fishermen of each country lodged in the jails of the other on 1 January and 1 July of every year according to India-Pakistan ‘Agreement on Consular Access’ signed on 21 May 2008. According to the lists exchanged on 1 July 2018, there were 108 Pakistan fishermen and 249 Pakistan civilian prisoners in India’s custody. 

Pakistan had acknowledged the custody of 418 fishermen and 53 civilian prisoners who are Indian or believed-to-be Indian in their jails. In addition, there is the issue of 83 missing Indian defence personnel, whose custody has not been acknowledged by Pakistan so far.

The External Affairs Minister, in October 2017, suggested to the High Commissioner of Pakistan that the two sides could work together to resolve humanitarian issues related to elderly, women and mentally unsound prisoners in each other’s custody and consider their early release and repatriation. 

It was proposed to revive the mechanism of Joint Judicial Committee and that a team of Indian medical experts could be allowed to visit the mentally unsound prisoners with a view to facilitating their nationality verification and subsequent repatriation. Pakistan responded positively on 7 March 2018. 

India has already shared the details of the medical experts' team and the reconstituted Joint Judicial Committee with Pakistan with the request to organise their visit. Pakistan has not responded so far.