Expat group seeks release of Pakistani prisoners | Pakistan Professionals Wing

Expat group seeks release of Pakistani prisoners

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Paksitani prisoners who have stayed in jail for not paying fines expected to be released in months

  • by faisal masudi, staff reporter  Gulf News
  • Published: 21:20 September 19, 2012

Dubai: Efforts are under way to secure the release of Pakistani prisoners languishing in UAE jails for failing to settle debts or fines — even after serving out their prison terms, an expat group said.

The Pakistan Professionals Wing (PPW) is co-ordinating with various UAE government departments as well as Pakistani missions and community members in th eUAE to organise financial relief and air tickets so prisoners can return home.

By law, prisoners who complete their sentences are not immediately absolved of any outstanding dues as well.

They must first settle the amounts and, in some cases, arrange a home ticket before being released or deported.

This means a number of prisoners who cannot pay stay behind bars indefinitely.

It is not clear how many such cases there are regarding Pakistani prisoners, said PWW Chairman Munir Mahmoud.

“We’ve requested the Pakistani consulate [in Dubai] to help us with the initial data. We expect this project for prisoners to go live in six months or less,” he said.

Around 1,400 Pakistani prisoners in the UAE are expected to benefit from a prisoner exchange programme that allows them to serve their jail term in Pakistan if their UAE imprisonment sentence is over six months, a spokesperson for the Pakistani embassy in Abu Dhabi had said in February.

“Many people are in jail because they were conned by visa traders, or wronged by ‘employers’ who promised them jobs after taking ‘employment charges’. They may have overstayed visas and gotten fines, or they need an air ticket so they can leave.”

A one-way flight to main Pakistani cities from Dubai costs around Dh300-Dh400 on budget airlines.

Mahmoud said it was too early to say how many prisoners are expected to benefit from the latest programme.

The PPW is part of the Pakistan Association Dubai, which has helped secure the release and return of hundreds of Pakistani prisoners from the UAE over the years.

On Tuesday night, the PPW hosted a presentation on threats facing Pakistan and its strengths. Pakistan: Dream, Nightmare, Vision was presented by Javed Jabbar, a former Pakistani politician turned author.

Jabbar said political corruption in Pakistan is behind many of the country’s woes, adding it was up to citizens to ensure they participate in politics to see a new generation of honest leaders take hold.

“I think violence is the single biggest obscenity in Pakistan today. I expect a cataclysmic change a decade from now, it’s a wishful thought. But hasn’t a kind of revolution [for change] already begun?” Jabbar said, referring to peaceful protests in Pakistan.

“The challenge, then, is to keep this non-violent. The buck stops with each of us.”

Jabbar listed some of Pakistan’s “60 strengths and 40 weaknesses” from his new book, ‘Pakistan – Unique Origins; Unique Destiny?’ Copies were sold to attendees for at least Dh25 per book, with all proceeds going towards education welfare for Pakistani students in the UAE.