Forgotten Pakistanis

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the plight of over 23,000 Pakistani citizens currently languishing in foreign jails. As highlighted in the recent Senate Human Rights Committee meeting, this issue requires im­mediate attention from the gov­ernment.

While it is unquestionable that those who deliberately commit crimes abroad must face the con­sequences, it is important to ac­knowledge that many fall victim to unforeseen circumstances or en­dure excessive sentences for minor offences due to their unfamiliarity with foreign legal systems.

Statistics reveal that the major­ity of Pakistani inmates are de­tained in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with a significant number also imprisoned in Greece, India, and other countries. However, the nature of the charges varies sig­nificantly based on the region. For instance, in Gulf states, most con­victions are drug-related, while Greek prisoners face immigra­tion-related offences and charg­es of illegal entry. In India, many Pakistanis are serving time for in­advertently crossing the border or overstaying the permitted dura­tion of their stay.

Those travelling abroad must be informed by the state that drug trafficking and illegal migra­tion can entail harsh penalties, including capital punishment and lengthy jail terms. Moreover, those being imprisoned or being tried abroad need to be given full consular access and represented by lawyers who are fully conver­sant with local laws. Agreements need to be inked with more states so that convicts can complete their sentences in Pakistan. Ad­ditionally, particular attention should be given to Pakistani pris­oners in India, due to frayed bi­lateral ties.

The government has a moral ob­ligation to safeguard the rights and well-being of all Pakistani cit­izens, including those incarcerat­ed abroad. Therefore, they should take swift and decisive action to address this pressing issue.



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