The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has shown initiative finally by proposing major amendments in the existing Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for implementation of the transfer of offenders from various countries into Pakistan so they may carry out the rest of their sentence here. It is a positive move aimed at removing the loopholes that allow convicted felons to take benefit of procedural gaps and evade their sentence.

Last year, all cases of transfer of offenders had been halted by the interior minister and for good reason. The formulation of a transparent policy was the need of the hour after reports emerged that a number of convicted people who had been transferred to Pakistan from jails abroad, managed to get themselves freed with the help of government officials including interior ministry officials.

Amongst other changes the interior ministry will be the central authority to coordinate with concerned jail authorities for transfer of offenders from place of arrival to the designated jail. The interior minister should be appreciated for his efforts to regulate all such processes where inconsistencies exist in terms of bringing Pakistani citizens back in the country, as is their right, be it illegal immigrants or convicts. The challenge remains to ensure that justice is served in an appropriate manner.

Blatant corruption on the other hand is unacceptable as the entire point of transferring convicts is to give the responsibility of these Pakistani citizens to the state. If the government is so keen on having its citizens sent back to the country so they may be tried and convicted here- as in the case of – Dr Afia Siddique – then it must ensure that the justice system and more importantly the police will not fail to incriminate the offenders and they will carry out their punishment instead of avoiding retribution due to red tape and corruption.