PM orders release of 151 Indian fishermen ahead of Modi inauguration

By AFP
Published: May 25, 2014
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Indian fishermen are presented with garlands as they leave Nara Jail after their release by Pakistani authorities. PHOTO: ONLINE

Indian fishermen are presented with garlands as they leave Nara Jail after their release by Pakistani authorities. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered on Sunday the release of 151 Indian prisoners ahead of his historic visit to New Delhi to attend Narendra Modi’s swearing-in as premier.

Islamabad’s move to free the prisoners — mostly fishermen accused of violating Pakistan’s territorial waters — was welcomed by India as a diplomatic gesture ahead of the inauguration Monday.

Modi’s invitation to Sharif to attend the ceremony has been widely seen as a bold diplomatic statement that he intends to improve strained ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The PM’s attendance will be a first in the history of the South Asian neighbours, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947 and remain bitterly divided over the disputed region of Kashmir and other issues.

“The prime minister has instructed that 151 Indian prisoners currently detained in Pakistani jails and 57 Indian fishing boats in Pakistani custody should be released on Monday,” a senior government official told AFP.

“Pakistan has always held that the issue of prisoners in our respective countries is a humanitarian one and should be taken in that spirit,” the official said.

India’s foreign ministry said Pakistan had notified New Delhi of its intention to free the prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” to coincide with the swearing-in.

“It’s always good to welcome back our prisoners who have been in custody for some time,” foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told CNN-IBN television network.

Akbaruddin also applauded in a tweet Sri Lanka’s decision to release five Indians detained for allegedly illegally fishing in the island’s waters.

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse ordered the release before his visit to Delhi for the ceremony, his office said in Colombo.

Modi invited PM Nawaz Sharif and other neighbouring heads of government from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to Monday’s swearing-in.

South Asian authorities frequently arrest fishermen from neighbouring countries for straying into their waters. The absence of properly defined maritime borders and of technology to determine ships’ location adds to the problem.

Efforts by various fishing communities to resolve the problem have ended in failure. The fishermen often languish in jails even after serving their terms because fulfilling official paperwork to get them home can take time.

Last August Pakistan released some 340 Indian fishermen on humanitarian grounds.

Modi will be sworn in as prime minister 10 days after his right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won national elections in a landslide, securing the biggest majority by a single party in 30 years.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • A Pakki
    May 25, 2014 - 6:12PM

    Are the fisherman of Pakistan and India complete idiots?
    I mean in the last 60 years they are still not able to tell where their border ends?Recommend

  • Balram
    May 25, 2014 - 6:18PM

    THIS IS JEWEL! This is exactly what we want! Export love and commerce, not extremists and bullets. (RE bullet bike being exception) So glad!

    Recommend

  • Jibran
    May 25, 2014 - 6:24PM

    Keeping them in jail for extended periods of time without proper trial was illegal anyways. Indians trespassers have done negligible harm if any, when compared with the intruders from the western borders with Afghan, arab, Uzbek, chechen, chinese ethnicities.

    Recommend

  • water bottle
    May 25, 2014 - 7:06PM

    India should release the fishermen also.

    Most importantly, the two countries should come to an agreement to release the fishermen quickly finishing inquiries and formalities.Recommend

  • Akbar Khan
    May 25, 2014 - 7:27PM

    What a sorry state of PAKISTANI Affairs………..Mr. Shariff is a King who can order release or arrest of anyone without any justification.

    By such action Mr. Shariff is implying that the fishermen were innocent and were only detained for his or his predecessors amusement.

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  • Bharat
    May 25, 2014 - 8:21PM

    Thanks Pakistan

    Recommend

  • Janet Garcia Texas
    May 25, 2014 - 9:10PM

    I as an American do not know much about Mr. Sharif but I do laud his acceptance of the invitation & release of the prisoners.To the people of Pakistan this is a great opportunity to bond so the sad situation in Pakistan can improve. @A.Pakki – what an idiotic question if fisherman can figure if the borders end.Do you think Pakistani fisherman ships are equipped with GPS? What does it matter if Mr. Sharif has the power to release the fisherman they do not possess any security threat while violent men roam the streets & go unchecked.
    Peace between can help Pakistan in trade, travel & improving the economy it amazes me how India has surpassed Pakistan in more ways than one will both countries were created in 1947.

    Recommend

  • water bottle
    May 25, 2014 - 9:22PM

    @A Pakki:

    No. Fishermen are not complete idiots. Yes, many are semi literate or illiterate.

    however, the main problem is, both the countries have failed to put up a barbed fence over the sea and put up some hoardings indicating the end of one water and the beginning of the other.

    Understand?

    Recommend

  • water bottle
    May 25, 2014 - 9:24PM

    I have just discovered something cynical about the capture of fishermen.

    I think both the countries keep the poor poor fishermen in jails so they can be used as dowry when the time of bilateral ties come to picture.

    How unfortunate that poor hardworking innocent people are held hostage by potbellied corrupt politicians of both the countries.

    It is indeed tragic.

    Recommend

  • ALI
    May 25, 2014 - 9:36PM

    WTH Nawaz sharif seems to be dying to visit India while from KHI to Khyber the whole country is burning and in misery. ALLAH Madad

    Recommend

  • Moiz Omar
    May 25, 2014 - 10:22PM

    A definite maritime boundary agreement should be agreed between Pakistan and India, and the fisherman should be educated on this agreement so they do not keep ending up in prison.

    Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    May 25, 2014 - 10:28PM

    Mian Sahib is a great player of diplomacy. A master stroke..

    Recommend

  • pak patriot
    May 25, 2014 - 10:34PM

    @A pakki

    Are you Crazy? Have you ever been to sea? They know this but they mostly cross over to avoid turbulence in the open sea.

    Recommend

  • Chetan
    May 25, 2014 - 10:55PM

    Thanq Pakistan Govt…

    Recommend

  • Strategic Asset
    May 25, 2014 - 11:04PM

    @Moiz Omar:
    @A Pakki:

    In case you didn’t know, there is no clear border between Kutch and Sindh because of Sir Creek.

    Recommend

  • Pity
    May 26, 2014 - 1:57AM

    Pakistan has always gone out of the way to build peaceful ties with india, I wonder whether modi sarkar will have the guts to reciprocate this gesture shown by Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • May 26, 2014 - 2:32AM

    what about the far more pakistani fishermen in indian jails???

    Recommend

  • A
    May 26, 2014 - 2:44AM

    This is ridiculous kneeling down before India. NS has caused too much disgrace to Pakistan. Relations should be built on equality basis.

    Recommend

  • Rudra
    May 26, 2014 - 7:22AM

    @pity so has india. But then you shoot us with mumbai,kargil,parliament,consular attack, border beheading and we have to take two steps behind. Why can’t that be stopped? The root cause of all problems?

    Recommend

  • Khan
    May 26, 2014 - 9:25AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:
    Keep at it darbarii. Most people don’t even want NS to go. He should have sent his Foreign Minister.

    Recommend

  • Noor Muhammad Thaheemore
    May 26, 2014 - 1:54PM

    sea waters has no colours, there are not visible signs of sea borders

    Recommend

  • Noor Muhammad Thaheemore
    May 26, 2014 - 1:56PM

    sea waters has no colors, there are not visible signs of sea borders.

    Recommend

  • Noor Muhammad Thaheemore
    May 26, 2014 - 2:00PM

    immediately release all fishermen of both countries.Recommend

  • Abdul Malik
    May 26, 2014 - 5:42PM

    @Pity:

    War of 1947
    War of 1965
    War of 1971
    War of 1999
    Terrorism in Kashmir
    July 2006 Mumbai Train Bombings
    2001 Indian Parliament attack
    2006 Varanasi bombings
    August 2007 Hyderabad bombings
    November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

    Truly Pity.

    Recommend

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