402 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, 58 had already completed sentence
NEW DELHI - Prioritising humanitarian issues, India and Pakistan on Sunday exchanged lists of civilian prisoners in each other’s custody, beginning the process of their release soon.
The swap of lists of prisoners came even as both sides completed the annual exchange of lists of nuclear installations following a 30-year-old agreement.
“Lists of 250 civilian prisoners and 94 fishermen were handed over to Pakistan. Further, lists of 54 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 4 fishermen who have completed their sentence was also exchanged,” stated the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a press release.
A differently abled minor, Hasnain, was repatriated to Pakistan through the Wagah border. The boy had inadvertently crossed into Indian territory in May 2017.
Pakistan has also shared a list of Indian prisoners out of which 58 are civilians and 399 are fishermen. The humanitarian gesture came days after the government informed Parliament that negative bilateral ties between India and Pakistan “impinge” on the release of the large number of fishermen languishing in each other’s prisons.
“Even in the absence of a structured bilateral dialogue, both sides have released fishermen. In 2017, we have successfully secured the release and repatriation of 363 Indian fishermen, including 245 Indian fishermen who have been repatriated in the last six months,” Gen. (retd) V.K. Singh told the Rajya Sabha.
The MEA, however, asked Pakistan that Islamabad needs to grant consular access for some Indian prisoners, including Kulbhushan Jadhav and Hamid Nehal Ansari.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad said Pakistan would release 146 fishermen on January 8.
Pakistan also communicated its disappointment over the non-issuance of visas by India, for the visit of the 192 Pakistani pilgrims to the festival of the shrine of Hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi held during January 1-8.