Pakistan had been negotiating the agreement concerning the transfer of convicted prisoners with more than 20 countries including the United States and European countries.
Officials earlier said the United States had called on Pakistan to sign a Council of Europe convention on the transfer of prisoners or convicts. The recommendation came in response to a request for the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners languishing 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.
Former Pakistani Law Minister Ahmer Bilal Soofi said the matter is tricky and may take some more time in obtaining final consent of the United States.
Soofi, who served in the caretaker government installed to supervise the May 11 election this year, said Pakistan had two options to seek repatriation of convicted Pakistani prisoners. Either they could join a bilateral treaty called the Inter- American Convention or ratify the Council of European convention to repatriate Pakistani prisoners.
"We preferred the European treaty because it was appropriate," Soofi, who had also added in in-put in the treaty, said. "Had Pakistan ratified the bilateral Inter-American Convention, then only convicted prisoners could have been repatriated from Pakistan to the United States and vice versa."
Pakistan did not want to ratify the bilateral treaty as it was complicated and could also ask for the repatriation of accused persons.
For instance, through the treaty, the United States could demand repatriation of the father of its nuclear program, Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan, who was accused of transferring nuclear technology to some states illegally.
Officials said that Washington had also showed its willingness to cooperate with Pakistan over the exchange of prisoners.
The former government of Pakistan People Party had endorsed the foreign ministry's suggestion for Pakistan to sign the Council of Europe Convention to take up the case of Pakistani national Dr. Aafia's case, as well as that of other prisoners.
Dr. Aafia, a Pakistani neuroscientist, was imprisoned on Sept. 23, 2010 in the United States, and was sentenced by a U.S. court to 86 years for having attempted to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. She is currently being held in a maximum-security prison in Texas.
Pakistan's Federal Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved signing of the treaty.
The Prime Minister Nawaz directed the Interior Minister to make arrangements for the early return of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, officials said.
Former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had, earlier this year, endorsed the foreign 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.
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.
--ANI (Posted on 29-08-2013)