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ISLAMABAD: Senator Irfan Siddiqui has revealed that Pakistani Interior Ministry was informed about Pakistani girl Sumaira imprisoned in India back in June 2018 and was asked for confirmation of her Pakistani citizenship. But the Ministry did not respond.

This criminal negligence is not only regrettable but also reprehensible that the Interior Ministry did not pay attention to this issue and Sumaira languished in an Indian jail.

Talking to a group of journalists at the Senate Secretariat C Block, Office Senator Irfan Siddiqui said that he had received the reports of Foreign Office and Ministry of Interior submitted to the Senate Secretariat.

According to the Foreign Office report, Sumaira was given Counsellors access twice on May 23, 2018 and November 18, 2021. In New Delhi, officials from the Pakistan High Commission met with Sumaira, who was lodged in Tihar Jail, Bangalore.

After the first consular access in May 2018, soon after the 1st consellor access to Sumaira in May 2018, a letter was sent to the Pakistani Interior Ministry in June 2018 for confirmation of the Sumaira’s citizenship, but the certificate could not be issued even after around four years.

Finally, on February 17, 2022, when once again I raised my voice in the Senate, this certificate was issued the same day.

However, Sumaira is still lodged in a detention centre in Saidpur, Bangalore, even after her jail term has ended. Senator Irfan Siddiqui said that “This is a test case.

I don’t know who to turn to for this very important humanitarian issue and who to ask for a full investigation. Senator Irfan Siddiqui said that as far as I know, more than 200 Pakistanis are still languishing in Indian jails”.

It may be recalled that Sumaira, a girl belonging to a Pakistani family residing in Qatar, had married Muhammad Shehab, an Indian Muslim citizen in Qatar. Shehab brought his wife to India without a visa, where Sumaira was arrested and jailed in Bangalore in June 201. Two months later, she gave birth to a baby girl who also remained in prison for four years with her mother. They were released last year after paying a fine of one million rupees which people of Bangalore collected. After her release, Sumaira was placed in a detention centre for not having a Pakistani citizenship certificate which was required by the concerned authorities back in June 2018.

The issue was raised by Senator Irfan Siddiqui in the Senate on February 14 and again on February 17. According to Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the certificate was issued on February 17. As per the Foreign Ministry’s report, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has contacted Sumaira and is actively seeking her release.

Sources informed that, she is expected to return to Pakistan in the next few days.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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