ISLAMABAD: As a result of National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) campaign in collaboration with Legal Aid Society the Pakistan government has ordered repatriation of 199 Indian fishermen from Pakistani prisons on Thursday.

In a notification, issued by the Sindh Home Department on May 4, the government had ordered the repatriation of 199 Indian fishermen, whose national status had been confirmed by the Indian government.

On Thursday, in compliance with the order, the Malir Jail commenced the arrangements for the release and shifting of the prisoners.

Member of the National Commission of Human Rights Sindh, Anis Haroon was present atthe jail to oversee the arrangements.

It was a moment of joy and relief for the Indian fishermen who had been incarcerated for years simply for accidentally crossing the maritime border. NCHR said that the decision to release the fishermen was a goodwill gesture by the government of Pakistan, especially since it also planned to release a second batch of 200 Indians in June and the last batch of 100 prisoners in July.

In a press statement, Chairperson NCHR Rabiya Javeri Agha welcomed the decision and had appreciated the Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their effort on this crucial human rights issue.

“This is a moment of relief and joy for the prisoners and their families. We thank the government of Pakistan, the LAS, Haya Zahid and the fishermen forums for all their support in this deeply heart wrenching issue. We hope that the Indian government will reciprocate and that the mechanism for mutual release of fishermen is streamlined and made efficacious” said Chairperson NCHR Rabiya Javeri Agha.

The NCHR data showed that more than 650 Indian fishermen were currently in Pakistani jails and another 100+ Pakistani fishermen are in Indian jails.

NCHR’s campaign was launched on May 1, and highlighted the ordeal of prisoners held in jails in India and Pakistani for accidentally crossing the maritime borders.

The campaign also emphasized on the implementation of national and international agreements applied on such prisoners, besides urging the governments of Pakistan and India to schedule talks to ensure the return of the detained fishermen and find out a permanent solution to the issue.

Data collected by the commission showed that there were an estimated 1,155 foreign prisoners in Pakistan, with a significant proportion being foreign fishermen.

NCHR’s campaign began with visits to Malir Prison, Karachi and meetings with stakeholders including Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.

The Commission had also developed a policy brief covering the background and details around the issues and recommending urgent policy and procedural measures to ensure repatriation of foreign fishermen to their country of origin on humanitarian grounds and for easing the strain on prison resources.

The policy paper urges a long-term solution to the issue and urged the Pakistani government to appoint members for its vacant seats in the Joint Judicial Commission with India. The commission also wrote to the NHRC Chairperson of India to help facilitate the return of Pakistanis fisherman from Indian jails.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

By-election trends
Updated 23 Apr, 2024

By-election trends

Unless the culture of violence and rigging is rooted out, the credibility of the electoral process in Pakistan will continue to remain under a cloud.
Privatising PIA
23 Apr, 2024

Privatising PIA

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s reaffirmation that the process of disinvestment of the loss-making national...
Suffering in captivity
23 Apr, 2024

Suffering in captivity

YET another animal — a lioness — is critically ill at the Karachi Zoo. The feline, emaciated and barely able to...
Not without reform
Updated 22 Apr, 2024

Not without reform

The problem with us is that our ruling elite is still trying to find a way around the tough reforms that will hit their privileges.
Raisi’s visit
22 Apr, 2024

Raisi’s visit

IRANIAN President Ebrahim Raisi, who begins his three-day trip to Pakistan today, will be visiting the country ...
Janus-faced
22 Apr, 2024

Janus-faced

THE US has done it again. While officially insisting it is committed to a peaceful resolution to the...