‘Policy for diplomats posting can’t be made public’

Published June 19, 2021
“The information contained in the document indicates certain categories of countries which is a sensitive subject for conduct of Pakistan’s diplomatic relations,” the ministry says.
“The information contained in the document indicates certain categories of countries which is a sensitive subject for conduct of Pakistan’s diplomatic relations,” the ministry says.

LAHORE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that contents of the policy for posting of diplomats out of Pakistan cannot be made public as it may harm the interest of the country in the conduct of international relations.

Responding to a citizen through the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), the ministry claims that the contents of the policy cannot be disclosed under section 16 of the Rights of Access to Information Act, 2017.

“The information contained in the document indicates certain categories of countries which is a sensitive subject for conduct of Pakistan’s diplomatic relations,” it adds.

To another query of the citizen, Abdullah Malik, also a lawyer, the ministry has revealed that at present as many as 9105 overseas Pakistanis (0.09 per cent of total population of Pakistani diaspora) are imprisoned in foreign jails of 75 countries across the world.

The ministry claims steps are being taken by the government for the release of the Pakistanis prisoners that include periodic consular access, provision of basic necessity items on each visit to jail, taking up complaints of prisoners with jail authorities and forwarding clemency requests of the prisoners to courts.

It says the staff of the Pakistan missions also visit courts and meet the authorities to expedite delayed cases.

As per the data shared by the ministry as of April 15, 2021, as many as 2495 overseas Pakistanis are imprisoned in the jails of Saudi Arabia, 1522 in the United Arab Emirates, 309 in Oman, 155 in Qatar, 146 in Iraq, 59 in Kuwait and 57 in Bahrain on charges of drug smuggling, rape and other criminal and financial crimes.

As far as the neighboring countries are concerned, 601 Pakistanis are detained in India, 348 in Afghanistan, 267 in China and 91 in Iran on charges of illegal border crossing, illegal stay, drug smuggling, espionage and alleged terrorism.

Similarly, 300 Pakistanis are imprisoned in the jails of United Kingdom, 768 in Greece, 291 in Italy, 98 in France, 84 in Germany, 141 in Hong Kong, 62 in the United States, 258 in Turkey, 272 in Spain and 239 in Malaysia on charges of illegal entry and criminal offences.

To another query of the citizen, the ministry said at present no officer of the foreign service was on deputation in other departments in the country for more than three years.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2021

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