Islamabad: Pakistan and India should work out a permanent mechanism through which prisoners in each other's jails are "swiftly repatriated after completion of their sentences and are not held without charge", said a leading daily.
The editorial in the Dawn appeared on Monday, a couple of days after President Asif Ali Zardari wrote to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting him to release octogenarian Pakistani virologist Khalil Chishty.
"It is hoped that Mr Singh responds positively to Mr Zardari's request so that Chishty can be reunited with his family in Karachi," said the editorial.
India's apex court on April 09 granted bail to Chishty who is undergoing life imprisonment in a jail in Ajmer for involvement in a clash that resulted in the death of a person.
The daily said that "in a related development, the Indian Supreme Court has ordered the authorities to repatriate Pakistani prisoners who remain incarcerated in Indian jails despite completing their sentences".
The editorial said that India and Pakistan "should take advantage of the current bonhomie and work out a permanent mechanism whereby prisoners in each other's jails are swiftly repatriated after completion of their sentences and are not held without charge".
"Both states do exchange prisoners' lists each year, but clearly the process needs to be overhauled. Many people are arrested for overstaying or other minor infractions and end up languishing in jail for years on end," it added.
The daily suggested that both countries need to "maintain updated information on the number of prisoners belonging to the other country in their respective jails as well as what charges they are being held on and the number of years they have been incarcerated so that individuals do not remain in prison indefinitely".
It also wanted the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi to be "more proactive in ensuring Pakistanis in Indian jails have consular access".
First Published: Monday, April 16, 2012, 13:00