Even as Sri Lanka and Pakistan ordered the release of Indian fishermen, Islamabad has raised the issue of Pakistani prisoners, including fishermen, held in Indian prisons.
“According to our figures, there are 521 Pakistani prisoners in India, including 168 fishermen,” a press release from the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office said, adding “the Government of Pakistan hopes that they too will be able to return to their loved ones in Pakistan soon.”
Pakistan has always said the “issue of prisoners in our respective countries is a humanitarian one and should be taken in that spirit.”
Following instructions from the Pakistan Prime Minister, the 161 prisoners will be handed over to Indian authorities on Monday at the Wagah/Attari border, the release said. The freed prisoners were taken in an air-conditioned bus from Karachi to the Wagah border in Lahore. Pakistan is releasing all those fishermen whose status as Indian nationals has been confirmed by Indian authorities.
Unlike the earlier batch of fishermen, arrested on charges of illegal fishing, who were released soon after India’s abstention at the U.N. Human Rights Council in March, the five to be released from Colombo on Sunday were arrested in November 2011 for allegedly smuggling n
On Tuesday, President Rajapaksa will hold bilateral meetings with Mr. Modi, where Indo-Lanka relations are to be discussed broadly. The 13th Amendment — which followed the India-Sri Lanka accord of 1987 — and the fisheries conflict between the two countries are likely to be discussed, according to senior officials.
The release of the five fishermen, however, does not pertain to the Palk Bay conflict that poses a major challenge to bilateral relations between the neighbours. The recent discussions between fishermen of both countries — the second round of talks was held in Colombo on May 12 — ended in a deadlock leaving fishermen of both sides rather disappointed.
Keywords: Pakistan prisoner release