LUDHIANA, February 20: Pakistan continues to refuse the presence of any Indian prisoner of war in any of its jails. This information was revealed to Ludhiana MP and the National Spokesperson of the Congress Manish Tewari by the External Affairs Minister Mr SM Krishna in a recent communication.
Referring to the matter of Urgent Public Importance raised by Tewari in the Lok Sabha regarding Prisoners of War of 1971 languishing in Pakistani Jails, Krishna said, there are believed to be 74 Missing Defence Personnel, including 54 Prisoners of War since 1971, in Pakistani Jails. However, Pakistan does not acknowledge the presence of any Indian Prisoners of War in its custody, he said in the letter.
He further added in the letter that the Government of India has repeatedly taken up the issue of release of Indian Missing Defence Personnel, including prisoners of war, believed to be in Pakistan, with Government of Pakistan through diplomatic channels and during high-level contacts. The matter of all Indian prisoners and fishermen believed to be in Pakistan’s custody was raised with the Pakistan side at the Foreign Secretary level talks on February 25, 2010 in New Delhi and again on June 24, 2010 in Islamabad. The issue was also raised during Home Minister’s visit to Islamabad on June 25-26, 2010 and during the Foreign Minister level talks in Islamabad on July 15, 2010. The issue was again taken up at the Foreign Secretary level talks in February, 2011 in Thimpu; Home/Interior Secretary level talks on March 28-29, 2011 in New Delhi; Foreign Secretary level talks in Islamabad on 23-24 June, 2011 and Foreign Minister level talks in New Delhi on July 27, 2011.
Krishna said, during the visit of External Affairs Minister to Pakistan in January 2007, Pakistan Government was persuaded to receive a Delegation or relatives of Missing Defence Personnel to permit them to visit prisons in Pakistan, where they are believed to be incarcerated. A delegation of relatives, accordingly, visited 10 jails in Pakistan from June 1-14, 2007. The delegation could not confirm the physical presence of the Indian Prisoners of War.
Pursuant to the visit of the delegation of relatives of Missing Defence Personnel, a Tri-Service Committee for monitoring matters on the subject has been formed in the Ministry of Defence, he said.