India, Pak finalising new Consular agreement : Pranab

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New Delhi, Mar 20 (UNI) India and Pakistan are finalising a new Consular agreement to replace the existing Protocol to ensure expeditious release of and consular access to prisoners.

A Judicial Committee comprising superior judges from both countries, has already been set up to address such issues. The Committee held its first meeting here recently.

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 1982.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Rajya Sabha today that the Government is concerned that 372 fishermen and an estimated number of 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 there had been delay in repatriation of Pakistan prisoners as travel documents were not provided to them in time by the Government of Pakistan.

UNI RB MSJ HT1827

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