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ISLAMABAD: Senator Rehman Malik on Thursday called on the government to protect the rights of Pakistanis imprisoned abroad.

Senator Malik, who is also the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, was speaking to a delegation from Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) led by Barrister Sarah Belal which visited him at his office to discuss the imprisonment of Pakistanis in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.

The delegation, on behalf of the families of overseas prisoners, appealed to Senator Malik to raise the issue of Pakistanis imprisoned in different countries with the government, as they are passing through a vulnerable situation, facing harsh punishments and lacking legal assistance.

Ms Belal, who is also the executive director of JPP, said there are currently 189 Pakistanis held in Iranian jails, many of them sentenced in drug offences. She said that on Oct 25, Iran’s Guardian Council approved a bill that eased the application of the death penalty in certain cases. As a result of the amendment, Pakistani citizens on death row in Iran are now entitled to commutation of their death sentences.

He asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to instruct all Pakistani embassies to provide complete, category-wise data on Pakistani prisoners abroad including the nature of their offences and their sentences.

There are currently 9,360 Pakistanis imprisoned in other countries. Without access to lawyers, consular assistance and impartial translators, the fate of these Pakistanis is at the mercy of local courts.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2018