'74 Indian defence personnel in Pak jails since 1991'
As many as 74 Indian defence personnel, including 54 prisoners of wars, are believed to be in Pakistani jails since 1971 but the neighbouring country has not acknowledged it so far, the government said on Thursday.
Besides this, another 314 Indians are also in jails in Pakistan.
This was disclosed by minister of state for external affairs E Ahamed in Rajya Sabha.
"As on August 16, 2012, as many as 233 Indian civilian prisoners, 81 Indian fishermen and 74 missing defence personnel, including 54 PoWs, are believed to be in Pakistani jails," Ahamed said.
He said government has repeatedly taken up the matter with Pakistan through diplomatic channels and during high-level contacts for the release of Indian PoWs believed to be in that country.
However, Ahamed said, Pakistan does not acknowledge the presence of any Indian PoWs in its custody.
In January 2007, Pakistan was persuaded to receive a delegation of relatives of missing defence personnel to permit them to visit prisons there where they are believed to incarcerated. The delegation visited 10 jails from June 1 to 14 in 2007 but "could not conclusively confirm the presence of physical presence of the Indian PoWs", he said.
The matter of missing defence personnel have been raised with Pakistan during the home secretary level meeting in May this year and foreign secretary level talks last month, Ahamed said.
To a query, he said Pakistan is awaiting internal approvals to sign the bilateral visa agreement with India which streamlines procedure to procure the document.
Both the countries have agreed to sign the visa agreement at an early date, Ahamed said, adding, "The Pakistan side informed that some internal approvals were under process and the agreement will be signed once they are in place."