NEW DELHI: India said it noted Pakistan’s positive response to a prisoners’ exchange proposal that was approved by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif yesterday.
According to External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, India had noted that “Pakistan has responded positively” to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s “suggestion to work towards the release and repatriation of prisoners over 70 years of age and women prisoners who are in each other’s custody”.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in October last year had suggested that the two sides could progress on humanitarian issues related to elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners when Pakistan High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood called on her after freshly assuming office.
On Wednesday, Khawaja Asif, after consulting all stakeholders, approved the humanitarian proposals received from the Indian side in connection with the well-being of civilian prisoners incarcerated in both the countries.
The proposal approved by the foreign minister included the following points:
- Exchange of three categories of prisoners, including women, mentally challenged/ persons with special needs, and those above 70 years of age.
- The revival of the Indo-Pak Joint Judicial Committee mechanism.
- Facilitating the visit of medical experts (from both sides) to meet and examine the mentally challenged prisoners for their repatriation to their native countries.
Additionally, Foreign Minister Asif also extended two more humanitarian proposals which included, exchange of prisoners above 60 years of age and exchange of prisoners below 18 years of age.
Asif expressed the hope that India would positively reciprocate Pakistan’s proposals in the same spirit as they have been made.
He also stated that it was his desire that through such initiatives, Pakistan and India would embark on the road leading towards a comprehensive dialogue and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the extremely fragile environment on both sides of the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.