Pakistan on Monday released 30 Indian prisoners, including 27 fishermen, from jail as a goodwill gesture ahead of the country’s Independence Day on Tuesday. The release of the prisoners “is in line with Pakistan’s consistent policy of not politicising humanitarian issues,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.
The 30 prisoners being set free also include 27 fishermen, it added. “This is a humanitarian gesture to mark Pakistan’s Independence day on August 14,” he said.
“It is our hope that the Indian side will also reciprocate in a similar manner,” he said.
Over 470 Indians, including 418 fishermen, are detained in Pakistani jails, according to a government report submitted before the country’s Supreme Court in July.
The 27 fishermen today reached Lahore and will be handed over to the Indian authorities at the Wagah Border.
Senior jail superintendent at Malir jail in Karachi, Ghulam Baksh said that they had released the fishermen yesterday and sent them via train to Lahore after getting orders from the interior ministry. “The fishermen have been released as a goodwill measure,” he said.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi welfare trust said the fishermen were obviously delighted at being released some of them had spent the last two years in jail. “We have taken care of their expenses, including sending them by train to Lahore and taking them to the Wagah Border. We have also given them cash and gifts as a sign of goodwill,” he said.
Pakistan and India frequently arrest fishermen for allegedly trespassing in the territorial waters in the Arabian Sea and these fishermen do not have boats equipped with the technology to know their precise location, authorities say.
A number of non-governmental organisations in both India and Pakistan have raised the issue of jailed fishermen, pressing their governments to release them without delay.