Islamabad (APP): Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday informed the National Assembly that at least 11,764 Pakistanis were currently detained or imprisoned abroad.

Aziz said all diplomatic missions abroad were providing the imprisoned and detained Pakistanis with necessary legal and financial assistance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs-administered Pakistan’s Community Welfare and Education Fund was also being used to pay their lawyers’ fees, fines and the cost of repatriation after the completion of their sentences or release from detention.

To a question about Bulgaria, Aziz said of the 105 Pakistanis who were currently detained there, six had been convicted while the remaining 99 were in custody for “illegal crossing” or “overstaying”. He added that despite the government’s offer to provide them with legal assistance, most of them had showed intentions of moving to other countries instead of returning to Pakistan.

Although diplomatic efforts are being made for their early repatriation, Aziz asserted that the exact time of return remained unclear because of the laws in that country.

When asked about the verification of these citizens, the adviser replied that the government had a strict system in place. “There is no way that a non-Pakistani, who may have travelled abroad using fake Pakistani documents, can be deported to Pakistan,” he asserted. He explained that the missions concerned sent details of a person to verify their citizenship and the deportation was facilitated once their  identity was confirmed.

Aziz said between 300 and 400 Pakistanis , who were deported by European countries, were currently being facilitated by the Turkish government until their return to Pakistan was confirmed. The adviser also informed the House that apart from India, Iran and the Gulf States, no Pakistani fishermen were imprisoned elsewhere.