ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is set to release Indian prisoner Hamid Ansari in the coming weeks as he completes his three-year term on December 15, officials said.
Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Ansari will be sent back to India by mid-January.
One official said: “We have to follow certain formalities before handing someone back to his/her country. It will take a few weeks. Within a month, he will back to India.”
Another official said Pakistan wanted to improve ties with India and had been making positive gestures to achieve the goal. “We even granted India the permission to send spy Kulbushan Jadhav’s family to meet him. This is a clear message of peace.”
Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured that he will look into the case of the 33-year-old Indian prisoner, who has been languishing in a Pakistani jail after being arrested for illegally entering the country from Afghanistan, reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online.
Mumbai resident Hamid Nehal Ansari was arrested in Pakistan in 2012. He is currently lodged in the Peshawar Central Prison after being sentenced by a military court to three years’ imprisonment for possessing a fake Pakistani identity card.
“I do not know about it…We will do our best,” Premier Khan told a group of Indian journalists when asked about Ansari in Islamabad. The journalists had come to cover the Kartarpur corridor ground breaking on November 28.
The Peshawar High Court yesterday granted one month to the government to send back Hamid Ansari to India after he completes his jail term.
A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Roohul Amin and Justice Qalandar Ali Khan, heard an appeal filed by Ansari through a senior lawyer.
The petition said that the federal government had not taken any steps for his release. Ansari’s lawyer said that his client’s prison term will end on December 15 and he should be released on the morning of December 16.
Following the court orders, a section officer of the interior minister appeared told the court that it will take them a month to complete the process for his return and will hand him over to Indian officials at Wagah border.
The court was told that the government of Pakistan had signed a treaty with India regarding the exchange of nationals under which both the governments have at least one month to initiate and complete the process of repatriation.
The Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy has appealed to the Pakistani authorities and Prime Minister Imran Khan, to release Hamid Ansari on December 16.