Pakistan on Friday released 364 Indian prisoners, most of them fishermen languishing in several jails despite completing their sentences. The move, which comes amid swelling tensions across the Line of Control, is part of an understanding between Pakistan and India to release citizens who mistakenly stray into each other’s waters.
The freed prisoners are set to be repatriated in a ceremony at the Wagah border today (Saturday).
Interior ministry officials told The Express Tribune that the step is being taken to decrease the mounting tension between the two neigbours.
“Ministry of Interior is repatriating 364 Indian prisoners tomorrow [August 24],” said interior ministry spokesperson Omar Hameed Khan.
The prisoners include 340 fishermen and 24 crew members of Indian vessels, added a statement issued to The Express Tribune.
The released fishermen and other juveniles were due to leave for Lahore on Friday night, where they will be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border crossing, said a senior official.
The 340 fishermen were released from District Jail Malir, Karachi, while 25 crew members were released from Gaddani Jail, Balochistan, they added.
“Today, we have released 337 Indian fishermen and seven other juveniles and they are leaving for Lahore,” said Shuja Haider, a senior official at Malir jail.
However a number of Indian prisoners are still in jails.
“Ninety-seven Indian fishermen are still in the jail as they have to complete their punishments,” said Inspector General Prisons Nusrat Mangan while talking to The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2013.