Pakistan has decided to release 57 fishing boats of Indian fishermen who were freed in May this year, in another sign that it is ready to reach out to its traditional foe.
The move comes nearly two months after 150 Indian fishermen, who were imprisoned for violating territorial waters, were released ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to New Delhi.
According to the foreign ministry, a nine-member Indian delegation visited Karachi from 18-20 July to inspect the boats and discuss modalities for the release with Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) officials.
While every effort is made by the agency to keep the boats in good condition, some minor repairs are still required before the boats can be physically handed over, the ministry said.
Fishermen from the contentious neighbouring countries are routinely hauled for international trespass and their boats are impounded by maritime authorities.
Commenting on the issue, foreign ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said that the Islamabad views the issue of prisoners as a humanitarian one and continues to make efforts for their release as soon as their prison sentence has been completed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.