LAHORE: India released 16 Pakistani prisoners including nine fishermen on Saturday as a reciprocal gesture five days after Pakistan freed 163 Indian fishermen.
According to a statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, 16 Pakistani prisoners, whose nationality has been confirmed by Pakistani authorities, are being repatriated to Pakistan via Wagah border.
The statement added that the cases against nine Pakistani fishermen have been withdrawn.
The confirmation of the release came from the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi, which said that a total of nine fishermen detained at a prison in the Indian state of Gujarat for more than two years have been released.
“The released Pakistani fishermen were caught in June 2013 and they all originally belong to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” said Ghulam Rasool Sheikh, a welfare officer of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society, which looks after legal and diplomatic process for the release of Pakistani fishermen detained in India.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs terms the release a follow up to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Ufa earlier in July,during which it was agreed by the two sides to release fishermen in each other’s custody, along with their boats.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi agreed to a new round of peace talks when they met in Russia last month.
The two sides agreed that Pakistan’s national security adviser, Sartaj Aziz, would hold talks with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval on August 23 and 24.
Sartaj Aziz while speaking at ASEAN Regional forum said that Pakistan wants result-oriented dialogue with India on all issues of mutual concern including the core issue of Kashmir.
Aziz emphasized that Pakistan wants brotherly relations with all the neighbouring countries.
In the past few days , the fragility of India-Pakistan peace has been underlined twice, first by an insurgent attack in Gurdaspur, and then by the capture of alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Muhammad Naveed in Udhampur.
Ceasefire violations along the LoC and working boundary between Pakistan and India continue intermittently, with casualties reported on both sides.
Pakistan's official sources say unprovoked firing by Indian troops on the working boundary has been continuing for the past many weeks.
Pakistan Army on Thursday lodged a strong protest with the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) over unprovoked firing by Indian troops along the working boundary at Sialkot's Pukhlian sector.
"UNMOGIP has been asked to conduct investigation of unprovoked Indian firing and shelling", an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.
It said Indian forces deliberately targeted civilians with heavy weapons on Tuesday, which resulted in three dead and 22 injured.