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No Indian PoW in Pak, says Musharraf deputy

Pakistan has consistently denied there are Indian prisoners of war (PoWs) in Pak despite tangible evidence of their presence in Pakistan. Musharraf had ordered a nationwide search on July 18 for jailed Indian soldiers following a promise he had made to Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Agra summit but with no results.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2004 17:44 IST

Pakistan military spokesman Major Gen. Rashid Qureshi has rejected reports that there are Indian Prisoners of War (PoW) in Pakistan.

He said he had investigated the matter on President Pervez Musharraf’s instructions but found no Indian PoW. “If there is any evidence of lndian PoWs, we are more than willing to look into it.” He said there were 135 Indians detained in various Pakistani jails for various offences, including murder. At least 71 of them had already completed their sentences and were awaiting deportation.

The delay, he had explained, was because Indian authorities were taking time to examine the identification papers. He said that 196 fishermen, who had inadvertently crossed into Pakistani waters, had been released in July last year. He also disclosed that there were 171 Indian nationals in various jails who were mostly involved in illegal border crossing cases and espionage.

Out of these prisoners, 70 had already been cleared for deportation but the Indian High Commission was processing their cases. Most of these prisoners had no travel documents and they would be deported as soon as India readied their documents and sent it to the authorities in Pakistan.

Musharraf had ordered a nationwide search on July 18 for jailed Indian soldiers following a promise he had made to Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Agra summit. He said that the search for Indian PoWs was massive and intelligence agencies helped the ministry to comb every jail in the country .Jail authorities were asked to identify each and every prisoner in all jails and submit the list within 15 days. The President had directed all provincial governors and other authorities to make sure that no Indian Prisoners of War was still held in Pakistan.

General Pervez Musharraf had also asked the foreign ministry to facilitate visits of the relatives of 54 Indian soldiers, who had disappeared during the 1971 war. The Foreign Office has already conveyed to India that Pakistan is ready to welcome an Indian official delegation to come and find the missing Indian soldiers.

First Published: Jan 13, 2004 17:44 IST