Islamabad: Pakistan’s cabinet on Wednesday approved the signing of a convention for exchange of prisoners to pave the way for the possible repatriation of a Pakistani woman serving an 86-year term in an American prison.
A meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the signing of the Council of Europe Convention on transfer of sentenced persons.
"On attaining accession to this Convention, the US Government will be requested...For repatriation of Ms Aafia Siddiqui, presently undergoing imprisonment in the US prison," an official statement said.
Sharif directed the Interior Ministry to "fast track" the signing of the Convention as it would facilitate Siddiqui`s repatriation.
Siddiqui, a neuroscientist, was sentenced to 86 years in prison by a New York court after being convicted of trying to shoot a group of FBI agents and American soldiers in Afghanistan in July 2008. She has denied the charges.
US officials have said she has links to Al Qaeda. Throughout her trial, the Pakistan government supported Siddiqui, and her conviction resulted in protests in the country. She is revered in Pakistan as a "Daughter of the Nation" by right wing and extremist groups.
The cabinet was informed by officials that Pakistani nationals sentenced to imprisonment by US courts cannot be brought back due to the absence of bilateral agreements or conventions to which both countries are signatories.
Under US law, a person sentenced under federal law can be repatriated to the country of origin if that country is a signatory to a prisoner transfer treaty to which the US is also a signatory.
The Cabinet approved the signing of a protocol to increase security cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey. It also endorsed agreements for defence cooperation with Spain and economic cooperation with Germany.