ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday approved on humanitarian grounds an Indian proposal to exchange prisoners, including women — mentally challenged or with special needs and those above 70 years of age.

According to sources in the interior ministry, at least 40 such Pakistani citizens are imprisoned in Indian jails.

“Revival of the judicial committee mechanism and facilitating the visit of medical experts (from both sides) to meet and examine the mentally challenged prisoners for their repatriation has also been proposed,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

Besides, the foreign minister has proposed exchange of prisoners above 60 years of age and exchange of child inmates below 18 years of age and expressed the hope that India would positively reciprocate Pakistan’s proposals in the same spirit they had been made.

Khawaja Asif said it was his desire that through such initiatives, Pakistan and India embarked on road to a comprehensive dialogue, and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the existing vitiated environment and the situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.

The sources said that India and Pakistan had been exchanging proposals to revive and organise meetings of the Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners.

According to Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal, the proposals to exchange prisoners had been under consideration but could not be implemented due to tensions between the two countries.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2018