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ISLAMABAD: The US has called on Pakistan to sign a Council of Europe convention on the transfer of prisoners or convicts, officials said yesterday. It follows a request for the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners in US jails. The Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, 1985, signed and ratified by 64 countries, allows foreigners convicted of a criminal offence to serve out their sentences in their home countries. “We sought a no objection certificate from the Foreign Office for an agreement with the US,” said Additional Interior Secretary Saud Mirza. The ministry wrote to the office after the US showed willingness to cooperate with Pakistan over the exchange of prisoners. Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf endorsed the ministry’s suggestion for Pakistan to sign the Council of Europe Convention to take up the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqi, as well as other prisoners. After seeking the interior ministry’s consent, the foreign office moved a summary to the prime minister earlier this year. The issue of an agreement was formally taken up with Washington some four years back when the then interior minister Rehman Malik and US Attorney General Eric Holder met to discuss matters related to prisoners, including Dr Aafia, Mirza had informed a Senate panel while explaining the matter. Pakistan is also considering signing the Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad.
Four shot dead in Helmand
KANDAHAR: Four people were shot dead yesterday when dozens of Afghan villagers clashed with police over alleged desecration of the Holy Quran. Officials said clashes broke out in Musa Qala, a town troubled by insurgent violence in the southern province of Helmand. “Seven people, including two policemen, were shot and injured,” said provincial spokesman Ahmad Zeerak. He said it was unclear whether police bullets caused the casualties and that officers had been forced to intervene after “Taliban fighters hiding among protesters opened fire on police first”.