Pakistan to free 51 Indian fishermen

Islamabad, May 17 (IANS) Pakistan caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso has decided to release 51 Indian fishermen on humanitarian grounds as a goodwill gesture, the prime minister’s office said Friday.

These prisoners have already served their sentences, the office said in a statement.

The prime minister expressed the hope that the Indian government will reciprocate the gesture and release Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails who have completed their sentence, reported Xinhua.

Pakistan and India routinely arrest fishermen after they cross the maritime boundaries for fishing.

Both countries have not succeeded in determining their water boundaries despite series of dialogue on the issue.

At present, 482 Indian prisoners are in Pakistani jails whereas 496 Pakistanis are in Indian jails.

The ministry of foreign affairs under Khoso initiated dialogue with India for the swap of either country’s prisoners.

The decision was made at a high level meeting attended by federal Law Minister Ahmer Bilal Sufi, Sindh province Chief Minister Zahid Qurban Alvi and senior officials of the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, law and justice and Prime Minister’s Secretariat.

The decision came days after tensions between the neighbors following attacks in jails on an Indian and a Pakistani prisoner. Both later died of wounds.

Rights groups in both countries complain of mistreatment of prisoners in both countries.

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