KARACHI: India on Friday released more than 80 Pakistani fishermen in a reciprocal gesture only a day after Pakistan freed 113 Indian fishermen as telephonic contacts between prime ministers of the two countries earlier this week started bearing fruit to some extent.
An official said that the confirmation about the release of Pakistani fishermen came from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. It said that 88 Pakistani fishermen detained in two different prisons of Gujarat state for the past three years were released. They are expected to be handed over to Pakistani authorities at Wagah border by June 21.
“The Pakistani fishermen would be handed over at the Wagah border in two batches on June 21 and 22,” said Ghulam Rasool Sheikh, the welfare officer of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society, which looks after legal and diplomatic process for the release of Pakistani fishermen detained in India.
“After the release of these 88 fishermen, some 53 Pakistani fishermen are left in Indian jails. In Pakistani jails there are still some 300 Indian fishermen. But one should recognise the fact that in a year, we have released some 1,200 Indian fishermen and their 57 boats.”
In return, he said, India took the same initiative for only 90 Pakistani fishermen before this fresh batch of 88 released on Friday. He said none of the 130 Pakistani fishing boats in Indian possession had been handed over to Pakistan over the past one year.
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2015