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Pak Govt moves to get Aafia home

29 August, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The difficulties faced in bringing US imprisoned Dr Aafia Siddiqui home has served as an eye opener as the government has decided to enter into a number of extradition and prisoner swap agreements with many other countries.

Federal cabinet on Wednesday gave approval for singing of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons to pave the way for repatriation of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was sentenced by a United States court and is serving her sentence there.

The main decision making body of the government also approved initiating negotiations on agreements on transfer of offenders between Pakistan and Maldives, Korea and China. It also approved signing the negotiated agreement on Transfer of Offenders between Pakistan and Yemen, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Chairing the cabinet meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the interior minister to 'fast track' the process of the signing of the convention. On attaining accession to the above said Convention, to which the US is a signatory, the US government will be requested for Aafia’s repatriation.

Earlier, recommendations for the extradition of Dr Aafia were sent to PM Nawaz for final approval after the interior ministry and Foreign Office declared them agreeable. The interior ministry had formed a three-member task force under the supervision of National Crisis Management Cell DG Tariq Lodhi which had presented 14 recommendations.

The cabinet was apprised that Pakistani nationals sentenced by US courts could not be brought home due to absence of any bilateral agreement or any convention signed between the two countries. Under US law, a person sentenced under federal law to a term of years may only be repatriated/transferred to country of origin/citizenship if the country in question is a signatory to a prisoner transfer treaty to which the US is also a signatory.

Federal cabinet gave its approval for implementation of decisions of Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP). In its June 4, 2011 meeting, LJCP approved certain amendments in the Law and Justice Commission Ordinance 1979, National Judicial Committee Ordinance 2002 and repeal of Federal Court Act 1937. The cabinet gave its approval for putting these amendments before the parliament.

The cabinet also approved amendment to the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance Act, 1969 (Act-II of 1969). The amendment envisages incorporation of Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development in the composition of the board in place of Ministry of Labour and Manpower.

The meeting of the cabinet approved amendments in the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973. The draft bill would provide for establishment of Islamabad Bar Council which is a statutory requirement. The cabinet considered amendments in Service Tribunals Act, 1973 and formed a committee for suggestions.

The cabinet also gave a go ahead for signing of Inter Governmental Council (IGC) Resolution to CASA-1000 Transmission Project between Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyz Republic. The IGC consists of ministers/deputy ministers of the four countries. The Joint Working Group has prepared recommendations for development of the project on the basis of Contractual Joint Venture and start negotiations on the terms and conditions.

Federal cabinet gave its approval for signing of Financial Cooperation Agreement 2011 with Germany. The agreement will strengthen and intensify friendly relations through financial cooperation in a spirit of partnership and it will contribute to social and economic development in Pakistan. The agreement will also facilitate loans and financial contributions to the tune of Euro 67 million for developmental projects in Pakistan. The cabinet approved signing of initial draft convention between with Czech Republic for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

The cabinet also approved signing of a defence cooperation protocol between defence ministries of Pakistan and Spain. The protocol envisages cooperation in military, defence industry and scientific-technological fields between the two countries. The cabinet considered and gave its approval for signing of protocol to increase security cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey. The objective of the protocol is to increase the current security cooperation between the police organisations of the two states for capacity building and training.

The cabinet approved signing of sports cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. The proposed agreement would provide an opportunity to share the experience, skills and techniques of sports between the two countries. It also approved initiation of negotiations with Sri Lanka for signing of an MoU on cooperation in the sports.

The cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval for negotiations and singing of protocol between the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research of Pakistan on phytosanitary requirements for exporting mangoes from Pakistan to China. The cabinet was apprised that export of Pakistani mangoes to China will not only accrue significant economic returns but will also attribute an authenticity to the Pakistani mangoes with respect to Plant Quarantine and WTO-SPS compliance.

End.

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