KARACHI: One hundred and eighty Indian fishermen will be released from Malir Jail on January 7, 2012, said Syed Iqbal Haider, whilst addressing the media in a press conference on Friday. They will be transported to India via Wahga border on January 8, he added.
Senior Advocate Supreme Court and the Co-Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Haider demanded the Indian and Pakistani government to release all the foreign prisoners over the age of 60 and expedite their respective trials by providing them with counselling facilities.
He said, “Counselling services can only be provided to the prisoners once their nationally is established, which is why it is difficult to assist the prisoners.”
Prisoners are deprived of legal help until their identities and nationalities are confirmed.
“Four hundred and forty Pakistani fishermen are currently in Indian custody out of which the nationalities of 285 prisoners have been determined, whereas 164 prisoners are inaccessible to any assistance because their nationalities have not been established as yet,” he added.
He also emphasised on the importance of treating fishermen trespassing into either territories, with lenient sentences.
Justice (R) Nasir Aslam Zahid briefed the media on the statistics of Indian prisoners in Pakistan’s custody.
“We have 362 Indian prisoners in our custody out of which 276 have been established as convicts and are serving their respective terms. Two hundred and seventy six will complete their sentence in a few months and will be repatriated, whereas 83 are still inaccessible to help because their nationalities are yet to be determined.”
Muhammad Ali Shah, chairperson of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum highlighted the issue of missing person in regards to fishermen and urged both the governments to look into the matter as closely as possible.
He gave statistics of various fishermen who went missing during 1999 and 2007 and are yet to be traced.
“When prisoners return from India, we get to hear about other people from the same villages that had been considered dead as they went missing years ago,” Shah said.