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Pakistan frees 315 Indian fishermen as “goodwill gesture”

June 27, 2012

Indian fishermen wait to board into a bus after their released from a jail in Karachi. – AFP (File Photo)

KARACHI: Pakistan on Wednesday released 315 Indian fishermen, including 14 teenagers, who were held in prison for violating territorial waters, officials said.

The release, described as a “goodwill gesture”, is part of an understanding between the countries to release citizens who mistakenly stray into each other's territorial waters.

It came one day after India said a planned meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers had been postponed. Pakistan has been in political upheaval since the Supreme Court dismissed the prime minister last week.

“We have released 315 Indian fishermen from our jail on the instructions of the government,” Nazeer Husain Shah, superintendent of the Malir district prison in Karachi told AFP.

“Those released include 14 teenage boys,” he said.

Haider Ali Haider, who runs charity Saiban designed to help imprisoned fishermen, said six buses had taken the Indians to the eastern city of Lahore, from where they would cross the Wagah border.

Officials say at least 150 Indian fishermen are still in Pakistani jails and 250 Pakistanis in Indian prisons.

Sharjeel Memon, the information minister for southern province Sindh on the Arabian Sea, said the releases were “a goodwill gesture”.