Zardari visit thaws India-Pak freeze

Zardari visit thaws India-Pak freeze

Chishti gets bail; hassle-free visas soon

Zardari visit thaws India-Pak freeze

Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to India on Sunday seems to have begun paying peace dividends with the Supreme Court granting bail to a 80-year-old Pakistan scientist convicted of murder, and both sides beginning work on a hassle-free visa regime for businessmen of both countries.

On Sunday, during the visit of Zardari for lunch with prime minister Manmohan Singh and a pilgrimage to Ajmer, Pakistan had requested India to consider the case of Mohammed Khalil Chishti, the Pakistani microbiologist who was sentenced to life term in 1992 for a murder he committed in India.

Taking a sympathetic view, A Bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice J Chelameswar provided relief to the microbiologist but told him to stay back in Ajmer in Rajasthan till further directions. The court told Chisti’s counsel to file separate applications for allowing the scientist to live in Delhi and to go back to Karachi.

In a departure from the usual, the Bench hoped that the bonhomie created between the two countries during Sunday’s visit of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Ajmer would continue in future as well. “Let us hope what has happened yesterday (Sunday) will continue,” the Bench said.

‘Good things happening’

“What we have read from today’s (Monday) newspapers is that good things are happening,” the Bench added. The court considered on humanitarian ground the plea made by senior advocate U U Lalit, appearing for Chishti, who has been suffering from several ailments.

In yet another fallout of the visit, Pakistan High Commissioner Sahid Malik said on Monday that his country and India were working towards a liberalised visa regime for businessmen that may see the two countries issuing one-year, multi-entry and non-reporting visas to businessmen of either country.

The proposal was discussed at Sunday’s meeting between Zardari and Manmohan Singh, and  both leaders desired to improve relations between the neighbouring nations, Malik told an interactive session organised by industry chamber Assocham.

“Taking note of his present age and also considering the fact that he was in Ajmer for the last 20 years and… without expressing anything on the merits of the case, we are satisfied that the appellant has made out a case for enlarging him on bail.

Accordingly, the appellant is ordered to be released on bail in Sessions Case No. 157 of 2001 to the satisfaction of the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, (Fast Track) No.1, Ajmer,” the Bench said.

The apex court, however, left the issue of conditions for Chishti’s release to the trial court in Ajmer.

During the hearing, counsel appearing for the Rajasthan government opposed the arguments for Chishti’s bail, contending that the appellant being a Pakistani national, it was not desirable to release him on bail.

Chishti had come to Ajmer from Karachi to see his ailing mother in 1992.

During his stay, he got involved in a fight with neighbours over property, leading to the shooting down of a man named Idris Chishti.

The Ajmer-born scientist had remained in confinement after his arrest in the case. The trial court had, on January 31, 2011, held him guilty and awarded life term.

During Zardari’s visit, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik raised the case of scientist with his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram, who was understood to have told him that the matter was in court.

Immediately after the bail order, Chishti’s nephew Salman hailed the SC’s decision and hoped that he would soon be sent back to Karachi to join his family and grandchildren.

Step forward

* Jailed Pakistani scientist Mohammed Khalil Chishti granted bail
* Conditions for his release left to the trial court in Ajmer
* He will fly to Karachi to join family
* Pakistan, India working on liberalised visa regime for businessmen
*One-year, multi-entry and non-reporting visas might be issued

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