Karachi: Pakistan today released 337 Indian nationals, most of them fishermen, against the backdrop of tensions between the two countries over firing on the LoC.
An official of the Home Department of southern Sindh province said 329 prisoners were freed from Malir Jail while eight minors were released from the Youthful Offenders Home in Landhi. Both prisons are located in Karachi, the capital of Sindh.
"One Indian prisoner could not be released from Malir Jail as there were issues with (confirming) his nationality,” prison superintendent Shuja Haider told PTI.
Most of the Indians are fishermen arrested by the Maritime Security Agency for crossing into Pakistani waters near the disputed Sir Creek. All the prisoners have completed their jail terms.
Haider said the Indian prisoners were delighted to be going home. "They have been sent to Lahore in eight air-conditioned buses. They were provided food and cash by the government," he said.
They will be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah land border tomorrow.
Pakistan’s goodwill gesture came at a time when tensions are running high between the two countries over firing along the Line of Control in Kashmir. Both sides have accused accused each other of violating the 2003 truce on the ceasefire line.
Bilateral ties were hit after five Indian soldiers were killed in an attack by Pakistani troops two weeks ago. The Pakistan Army said yesterday two of its soldiers were killed in firing by Indian forces.
Pakistan and India frequently arrest and jail each other’s fishermen for violating the maritime boundary. A spokesman for the Fishermen Forum said there were around 100 Indian prisoners in jails in Sindh, including three juveniles at the Youthful Offenders Home.
"We hope the Indian government will reciprocate and release some of the nearly 150 Pakistani fishermen jailed in India," he said.
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