Pakistan and India have agreed on a proposal to release prisoners of certain categories held in each other's jails on humanitarian grounds, the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

The proposal, which was approved by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif after consultation with "all the stakeholders", was extended by India for the release of imprisoned citizens that fall into the following three categories:

  • Female prisoners

  • Prisoners over 70 years of age

  • Mentally challenged or persons with special needs

The foreign minister also greenlighted the revival of the mechanism of Pakistan-India Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners, which has been inactive since October 2013.

Under the approved plan, both countries will allow medical experts from the other to travel to their country to examine the mentally challenged prisoners in order to ascertain their eligibility for release.

According to the FO statement, Asif has additionally proposed to India two more suggestions for the prisoners' welfare, including:

  • Exchange of prisoners older than 60 years

  • Exchange of child prisoners younger than 18

The foreign minister expressed the hope that India will reciprocate Pakistan's proposals positively "in the spirit that they have been made", the FO said.

According to the statement, Asif said it was his desire that through initiatives such as the prisoners' exchange plan, "Pakistan and India would embark on the road to a comprehensive dialogue, and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the extremely vitiated current environment and the situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary".

Interior ministry sources had told DawnNewsTV in January that at least 40 Pakistani citizens are imprisoned in Indian jails who fit the criteria of the three categories mentioned in the approved proposal.

FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal had then said that proposals to exchange prisoners had been under consideration, however "they could not be implemented due to LoC [ceasefire violations] and tensions between the two countries".

Ceasefire violations are a frequent feature along the LoC and Working Boundary despite the leadership of Pakistan Rangers and India's Border Security Forces agreeing in November 2017 that the "spirit" of the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement must be revived to protect innocent lives.

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