Agreement to transfer Pakistani prisoners home nearly complete

The UAE and Pakistan are very close to completing an agreement that would allow Pakistani prisoners in the Emirates finish their prison terms in their homeland, according to Pakistan's ambassador to the UAE.

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DUBAI // A bilateral agreement between Pakistan and the UAE to transfer dozens of prisoners to their respective homelands each year is "90 per cent" complete, according to the Pakistani ambassador.

Negotiations between the two governments have been going on for more than a year on the document known as the Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

A couple of stumbling blocks that had held up approval had been overcome, and official approval was close, said Jamil Ahmed Khan, Pakistan's ambassador to the UAE.

"Initially, there was an issue regarding who would pay for the transfer and travel of the prisoners," Mr Ahmed Khan said. "But it has been agreed that Pakistan would as these prisoners would be Pakistani citizens."

Mr Ahmed Khan said the deal would now be sent to the Pakistani cabinet within the next two weeks, before going back to the UAE for final approval.

"From a scale of one to 10 we are at stage 9 of the process," he said. "They will have to serve the remainder of their terms in prison in Pakistan." Mr Ahmed Khan, who has been working on the agreement since his appointment as ambassador 11 months ago, said the deal was being done on humanitarian grounds. He said the aim was to have prisoners complete their terms in Pakistan, where they would be closer to their loved ones.

"The relocation of the prisoners would depend on the type of crime they had committed," he said, "but we would look at putting them in prisons that are closer to their families."