New Consular Agreement with Pakistan being finalized: Pranab Mukherjee

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New Delhi, Mar 20 : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said that a new Consular Agreement is being finalised with Pakistan to replace the existing protocol to ensure expeditious release of and consular access to prisoners.

In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Mukherjee said, "A Judicial Committee comprising superior judges from both countries has been set up to address such issues."

The present arrangement between India and Pakistan on grant of Consular Access and the release of each other's nationals in custody is governed by the provisions of the Protocol on Consular access of November 2, 1982.

In his reply, Mukherjee also added that the Government is concerned that 372 fishermen and an estimated 199 prisoners are in jails in Pakistan, many of whom have not been granted consular access despite prolonged periods in custody.

On the issue of Pakistani prisoners lodged in Indian jails for minor offences, the Minister said, "On occasion, there has been delay in repatriation of Pakistan prisoners as travel documents were not provided to them in time by the Government of Pakistan."

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