Elahi, a former spy, had served two decades in several Pakistani prisons from 1977-1996 on the charge of spying for India. He was Zardari’s prison mate along with several leaders of Pakistan People’s Party in the Karachi Central Jail in 1986-87.
“I had been serving in the same prison along with Zardari and Benazir Bhutto during the military rule in Pakistan under Zia-ul-Haq. We used to meet Zardari on Sundays in the courtyard of the jail,” said Elahi.Elahi had decided that if he gets to meet Zardari he would request him to release all the Indian prisoners of war in Pakistani jails.
A seasoned spy of the late 60s and 70s, Elahi had twice crossed over to Pakistan — once via East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and once via the western border. He recollected how he had developed a good rapport with Zardari in prison. “He (Zardari) used to talk about the political situation in Pakistan, and the misrule and suppression of Zia. He had a strong following inside the jail,” he recalled.
According to Elahi, Zardari was “sympathetic” to the plight of Indian prisoners. “He was quite influential and he was sympathetic to Indian POWs. The Indian POWs used to wash the clothes of Pakistani prisoners and do menial chores for them. They would also do it for Zardari, but Zardari was sympathetic to them. He would speak to them, buy them soap and sweets,” said Elahi.