Indian prisoner Hamid Nihal Ansari
Pakistan on Monday released Indian prisoner Hamid Nihal Ansari, who was lodged in the Peshawar Central Jail after being sentenced to three years' imprisonment for possessing a fake Pakistani identity card on December 15, 2015. Ansari, a 33-year-old Mumbai resident, had entered Pakistan from Afghanistan, reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online.
Official sources told news agency ANI that the release became possible due to relentless pressure from India on Pakistan. According to the sources, India issued 96 note verbales to Pakistan seeking consular access and clarity on the charges against Ansari, on which India received no satisfactory response.
Ansari was released from the Pakistani prison after a court-mandated jail-term came to an end. Though his jail term ended last week, he was not able to leave for India as his legal documents were not ready. On Thursday, the Peshawar High Court gave the federal government a month deadline to complete his repatriation process.
The sources added that with his jail term was coming to an end on December 16, New Delhi had mounted pressure on Islamabad at multiple levels in the past few weeks, seeking to ensure Ansari's release and quick repatriation to India.
Ansari had gone missing after he was taken into custody by Pakistani intelligence agencies and local police in Kohat in 2012 and finally in reply to a habeas corpus petition filed by his mother, Fauzia Ansari, the high court was informed that he was in custody of the Pakistan Army and was being tried by a military court.
A two-judge Peshawar High Court bench, comprising Justice Roohul Amin and Justice Qalandar Ali Khan, on Thursday heard an appeal filed by Ansari through his lawyer Qazi Muhammad Anwar.
Anwar informed the bench that both the Ministry of Interior and authorities of prison, where he was lodged, were completely silent about his release and deportation to India.
After hearing this, Justice Khan asked the Additional Attorney General to explain how would they keep the prisoner in jail after completion of his term.
(With PTI inputs)