ISLAMABAD: Pakistan authorities on Sunday released 100 Indian fishermen as a gesture of goodwill despite the aggressive attitude of New Delhi against Islamabad.
The fishermen had been arrested over trespassing into Pakistani waters by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA).
The freed prisoners would be departed to Lahore from Karachi Cantt railway station at 1:00 pm today after being released from the jail and later they will be handed over to Indian officials at Wagah border.
Moreover, 260 more fishermen will be released in phases. Edhi Foundation is bearing travel expenses of the recently released Indian fishermen.
It is pertinent to mention here that the federal government had decided to release overall 360 Indian prisoners in April, as the nuclear-armed neighbours scale back from a confrontation that prompted world powers to urge restraint.
Tension has been running high since a suicide car bombing in India occupied Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on Feb. 14, but the risk of conflict rose dramatically on Feb. 27 owing to Indian warplanes’ ingress beyond the Line of Control and into Pakistan.
The following day Pakistan shot down an Indian fighter jet and captured its pilot who was later released.
“Pakistan has decided that 360 Indian prisoners – having a breakup of 355 fishermen and five civilians, who have completed their term of sentence, will be released,” Mohammad Faisal, spokesman for the Pakistan Foreign Office, had told reporters on April 6.
He said the prisoners would be released in four batches starting from April 8.
Due to the rocky relations between the two sides, prisoners who have completed their jail terms often languish in each other’s jails for months, if not years, afterwards.
According to the lists exchanged by both sides in January, there are 347 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, 249 of whom are what the spokesman described as civilians and 98 fishermen.
There are 537 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails, 483 of whom are fishermen. “We hope that India will reciprocate this,” the foreign office spokesman said.