Pakistan said today it expected India to reciprocate its “friendly gestures” and release 54 Pakistani prisoners held in several Indian jails despite the completion of their prison terms. Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told reporters here that Pakistan also wanted India to respond to its proposal about the exchange of prisoners. “Pakistan is pursuing the matter of release of 54 Pakistani prisoners from Indian jails, who remain incarcerated despite completing their sentence.
“We also await New Delhi’s response to Pakistan’s humanitarian proposal for exchange of prisoners above 60 years and children below the age of 18, shared with the Indian side on March 7 2018,” he said. Faisal said Pakistan made positive gestures on the humanitarian track vis-a-vis India as reflected in the release of civilian prisoners and fishermen. Faisal claimed Pakistan facilitated visits of India pilgrims to religious shrines despite New Delhi’s denial of visas for Pakistanis and also showed “good-faith humanitarian gesture of allowing Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family to visit him”.
“We expect our friendly gestures to be reciprocated,” he said. Faisal said Pakistan was gravely concerned at the inauguration of the Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP) and “believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is a violation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)”. He claimed that India went ahead with the construction while efforts to resolve were still going on.
“This intransigence by India has made the Treaty dysfunctional,” he said. “Pakistan urged the Bank to raise this violation of the IWT with India and bring an end to the impasse. Pakistan reiterated that as the custodian of the Treaty, the World Bank should urge India to address Pakistan’s reservations on Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP),” he said. He said a delegation led by Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali discussed the issues related to Kishenganga (KHEP) and Ratle (RHEP) Hydroelectric projects under the Indus Waters Treaty with bank official and conveyed the concerns.
“The Attorney General reminded the Bank of its obligations and emphasised the need to abide by its commitments. “The delegation stressed the need to revisit the design and impact of KHEP. He also urged the US government to actively support the Bank in resolving the KHEP and RHEP within the ambit of the Treaty,” said Faisal. He said the “water disputes with India carry the potential to escalate into full-scale conflict between both sides”. “Pakistan is an agro-based economy in dire need of water.
The government has recently released a comprehensive water policy to tackle the acute shortages of water in the country. Pakistan is doing whatever is necessary to raise the alarm bells and share our concerns with all concerned,” he said.
Faisal said Pakistan wanted a peaceful neigbourhood where all countries can focus on meeting the socio-economic needs of their people, rather than squandering their resources on a futile arms race and acquiring destabilising weapon systems and technologies. Faisal alleged that according to the Army, Pakistan had sufferd 28 civilian deaths and injuries to another 117 in 2018 due to over 1050 ceasefire violations from the Indian side. He also said Pakistan will submit the counter-reply in Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case to the International Court of Justice in July.
When asked about former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt General Asad Durrani’s claims in the book ‘The Spy Chronicles’ that Pakistan did not tackle the case of Jadhav properly and that he will be handed over to India, Faisal said “This will never happen”. Faisal also alleged that maltreatment of minorities in India and rising extremism were evident by the recent killings of Muslims.
Speaking on different issues about US allegations regarding mistreatment of its diplomats in Pakistan, he said the Foreign Office had not received any specific complaints from the US side after establishment of the mechanism to resolve the issue of treatment of American diplomats in Pakistan.
“Diplomats hailing from all countries enjoy diplomatic privileges alike and are provided every possible support as per international laws and norms as well as reciprocity,” he said.