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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Pakistan, India exchange lists of wanted criminals

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India on Tuesday exchanged a list of wanted criminals but did not hold any discussion on the matter, official sources told Daily Times.

Syed Kamal Shah, Pakistan’s interior secretary, exchanged the list with his Indian counterpart VK Duggal, on the sidelines of two-day talks between the two countries.

Sources said the exchange of lists was not part of the agenda of the talks, which focussed on exchange of civilian prisoners and fighting drugs and terrorism.

The list given to the Indian home secretary by Pakistan included 58 wanted criminals believed to be hiding in India. Sources said one of the prominent names was Javed Langra. The Indian list contained 38 wanted criminals including Hafiz Saeed, Azhar Masood and Dawood Ibrahim.

Sources said the Indian home secretary also sought extradition of five hijackers of an Indian flight which was hijacked from Nepal and taken to Kandahar in December 1999.

India claims that Pakistani nationals Mohammad Ibrahim Athar Alvi, Zahoor Ibrahim Mistri, Shahid Akhtar Sayed, Shakir Mohammad and Azhar Yusuf were involved in the hijacking.

Sources said there was a little likelihood that the two countries would sign an extradition treaty for the exchange of criminals. They said the criminals wanted by Pakistan were “heroes” in India and vice-versa.

Sources said Pakistan denied India’s claim that Dawood Ibrahim – India’s most wanted man – was living in Karachi. Pakistani authorities made it clear that they had no information on Dawood’s whereabouts.

Sources said Shah rejected Indian allegations that Pakistan is involved in cross-border terrorism and observed that Pakistan was itself a victim of terrorism because it was a frontline state in the war against terror.

The Pakistani side also raised the issue of Indian consulates in Afghanistan, which Islamabad believes are abetting militants in Balochistan.

During the meeting the two sides agreed to provide consular access to prisoners within three months of their arrest. This would quicken the time it takes to repatriate prisoners. The two sides also agreed to quickly notify each other if their nationals were arrested.

India released 59 Pakistani fishermen on Monday while Pakistan released 71 Indian fishermen on Tuesday, but sources said 472 Pakistani prisoners were still in Indian jails. Of these, 147 prisoners do not have consular access and Shah demanded that Pakistan High Commission officials be allowed to contact them.

The Indian home secretary also demanded consular access to the 505 Indian fishermen and 109 other Indian civilians held in Pakistani jails.

The two sides also reviewed the progress of talks between the two countries on drugs and narcotics control. The officials discussed the possibility of cooperation on police training and crime investigation.

“The talks will continue tomorrow and a joint statement will be finalised and signed at the conclusion,” said an official press statement.
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