Saturday, May 4, 2013

India soothes Pakistan with consular access

NEW DELHI, May 4, 2013

Even as Pakistan demanded an international probe into the assault on Sanaullah Ranjay in Jammu's Kot Balwal jail, New Delhi began pulling out all stops to provide him with the best possible medical treatment and consular access. But it did not relent in its demand for post-mortem reports of two Indian prisoners who died in Pakistani jails this year.

Soon after news of Sanaullah's assault broke, India expressed concern and the Ministry of External Affairs offered to hold talks with Pakistan to implement the recommendations of a committee of retired judges from both countries for providing humane treatment to Indian and Pakistani prisoners lodged in the other country.

Speaking to The Hindu, Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir reiterated the demand for an international investigation. He, however, said Pakistan would positively respond to India's request for a joint meeting to consider the panel's recommendations that were released on Friday. "If that be so, we would be inclined to view it positively."

Mr. Bashir said Pakistan made four demands: prompt access to Sanaullah by its diplomats; access by diplomats to doctors treating him; his release and repatriation; and ensuring the safety of the 500-plus Pakistanis lodged in Indian prisons. He described as "rather far-fetched" India's claim that the assault was spontaneous and felt "prima facie, this seemed like retaliatory action [for the assault on Sarabjit Singh in a Lahore jail]." That is why, Pakistan demanded an impartial investigation.

India has accepted Pakistan's request for consular access for three diplomats and a driver, suspended two jail officials and issued a circular calling for enhanced security.

But it demurred at the demand for his repatriation. Official sources pointed out that Sanaullah was receiving treatment and was under medical watch.

As for the Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, officials of the Ministry of External Affairs expressed regret to their Pakistani counterparts for the assault in the Jammu jail despite the government having announced enhanced security to Pakistan prisoners. The Ministry also acquainted them with the measures taken so far: the suspension of the top jail official, along with another, and a probe ordered by the Home Minister. After the inquiry was completed, appropriate action would be taken, they assured the Pakistani side.

The Ministry also reminded Pakistan of India's demand for Sarabjit Singh's autopsy reports as well as the long-pending autopsy report of Chambail Singh who was killed in a Pakistani jail in January. "We also underlined the need for Pakistan to share the full details of their investigation into the killing of Sarabjit Singh, as well as the action they have taken to identify and punish those who were responsible…"
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