KARACHI: Pakistan on Thursday released 113 Indian fishermen after a similar gesture by New Delhi was announced to mark the start of the holy month of Ramazan.
The fishermen, who had been kept in a Karachi jail for nine months to a year, were put on a train bound for Lahore from where they will cross back to their home country.
“We have released 113 Indian fishermen on the orders of the government,” Mohammad Hussain Sehto, the jail chief, told AFP.
The release of Indian fishermen followed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phone call to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday, offering Ramazan wishes and announcing the release of detained fishermen in an apparent icebreaking move after recent provocative comments heightened bilateral tensions.
Muhammad Ali Shah, president of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, said “around 200” Pakistani fishermen were to be released.
Modi’s call came after a war of words between the neighbouring nations, including a recent speech he delivered in Bangladesh that touched on its war and secession from Pakistan as well as a junior Indian minister’s veiled threat to carry out military operations inside its rival’s territory.
Fishermen are frequently arrested along with their boats by both India and Pakistan as the maritime border in the Arabian Sea is poorly defined, and many fishing boats lack the technology needed to be certain of their precise location.
Both countries also use the release of fishermen to express goodwill from time to time.
The fishermen often languish in jail even after serving their term, as poor diplomatic ties between the two arch-rivals mean fulfilling official requirements can take a long time.