More than 12,000 Pakistanis languishing in prisons abroad: NA told

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was told on Thursday that over 12,000 Pakistanis were currently languishing in jails abroad.

According to official documents presented in the National Assembly, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia account for the highest number of Pakistani prisoners, each with 3,100 detainees.

The detailed breakdown from the provided documents reveals that Abu Dhabi holds 1,612 Pakistani prisoners, while Dubai detains 1,488.

Similarly, Jeddah has 1,504 Pakistani prisoners, and Riyadh has 1,596. Other countries also have significant numbers of Pakistani nationals behind bars, with 209 in Qatar, 329 in Turkey, and 811 in Greece.

Notably, the imprisoned Pakistanis are present across various nations globally, including 672 in Iraq, 208 in Manama, 115 in Spain, 239 in China, 119 in Germany, 44 in Australia, and 98 in the United States.

Furthermore, official records show that Malaysia detains 151 Pakistani prisoners, while Kuwait has 55. British prisons hold 275 Pakistani detainees, Denmark has 32, Sri Lanka has 94, and Maldives has 21.

Additionally, Afghanistan, Jordan and Nigeria also detain 13, 12, and eight Pakistani prisoners, respectively.

According to Dawn, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also provided the details of the offences committed by the Pakistani prisoners abroad.

The most common offences are drug trafficking, murder, theft, fraud, forgery, illegal entry, immigration violations, etc.

The ministry also said that it provides legal and consular assistance to the prisoners through its missions abroad and coordinates with the host governments for their early release and repatriation.

According to Geo, the Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development has expressed concern over the plight of Pakistani prisoners abroad and urged the government to take effective measures for their welfare and protection.

The committee also recommended that the government should sign prisoner exchange agreements with other countries, especially those with a large number of Pakistani inmates, such as Saudi Arabia and UAE.

According to The Express Tribune, the government has allocated Rs100 million in the budget for 2023-24 for the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners abroad.

The funds will be used to pay for their air tickets, fines, blood money, etc. The government has also allocated Rs50 million for providing legal aid to the prisoners through Pakistani missions abroad.

According to media reports, Pakistan has signed prisoner exchange agreements with 10 countries, namely UK, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey and Egypt.

However, these agreements are not fully implemented due to various reasons, such as lack of coordination, bureaucratic hurdles, legal complications, etc.

Moreover, some countries have strict conditions for prisoner exchange, such as completion of a certain percentage of sentence, consent of the victim’s family, etc.

According to a report, Pakistan has also released thousands of foreign prisoners from its jails in the past five years on humanitarian grounds. These include 1,100 Indians, 300 Afghans, 37 Iranians, 11 Sri Lankans and six Bangladeshis.

Most of them were fishermen who had crossed into Pakistani waters inadvertently or illegally.

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