Pakistan frees 198 Indian fishermen, plans to release 300 more

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has released 198 Indian fishermen after completion of their sentences and verification of national status, on Saturday.

In a statement, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the repatriation of Indian fishermen was completed last night through Wagha border. She said their release is in line with Pakistan’s consistent policy of not politicizing the prisoner issues and taking a humanitarian view of the matter.

The fishermen were released from Malir Jail in Karachi on Thursday evening and handed over to Indian authorities at Wagah on Friday nihgt.

Malir Jail Superintendent Nazir Tunio said they had released the first batch of Indian fishermen prisoners and two more would be released in June and July. “We released 198 prisoners on Thursday while 200 and 100 more will be released later,” he said.

The second batch of 200 Indian fishermen will be released on June 2 and another 100 on July 3 as per the agreement between the two governments, said Saeed Baloch, secretary general of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum.

Baloch said he has great sympathy for the Indian fishermen as most of them were out only for livelihood and did not even realize it when they crossed the territorial waters between the two countries.

“The sad part is that some of them had to spend 7 to 8 years in prison before getting a chance to return home,” he said.