Islamabad: As a humanitarian gesture to mark Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14, Pakistan on Monday released 30 Indian prisoners, including 27 fishermen, from jail as a goodwill gesture ahead of the country’s Independence Day.
The release of the prisoners “is in line with Pakistan’s consistent policy of not politicising humanitarian issues,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.
The 30 prisoners being set free also include 27 fishermen, it added.
“This is a humanitarian gesture to mark Pakistan’s Independence day on August 14,” he said.
“It is our hope that the Indian side will also reciprocate in a similar manner,” he said.
Over 470 Indians, including 418 fishermen, are detained in Pakistani jails, according to a government report submitted before the country’s Supreme Court in July.
Both Indian and Pakistani fishermen occasionally stray into each other’s waters, owing to lack of clear demarcation of maritime boundaries during their fishing trips and are caught and put into jails for a longer period of time.
Due to lengthy bureaucratic hurdles and slow progress by the governments of both countries on reparation, the fishermen languish in jails for a long period of time.
However, India and Pakistan occasionally release the fishermen as a goodwill gesture.
Many civil society organisations around the world have been urging New Delhi and Islamabad to enter into an agreement for defining and enforcing proper international maritime laws.
On May 3, Pakistan repatriated an ailing 20-year-old Indian prisoner Jitendra Arjunwar on humanitarian grounds. Arjunwar, who is suffering from Thalassemia, unintentionally crossed into Pakistan following an argument with his family in 2013.
In January, Pakistan set free 147 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture. They later crossed into India through the Wagah border.
In his first speech after the general elections last month, Pakistan Prime Minister-designate Imran Khan said he wanted to have good relations with India and work to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue. Mentioning Kashmir as the core issue of dispute between the two nations, he said that it was time the two countries sat across the table and discussed the issues of concern.
Subsequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Khan’s victory in the polls and expressed hope that the new Pakistan government would work to ensure a terror-free, peaceful and stable subcontinent.