ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India, on Thursday, exchanged the list of prisoners in each other’s jails through diplomatic channels, simultaneously in Islamabad and New Delhi.
According to a statement of the Foreign Office, the government of Pakistan shared with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad a list of 609 Indian prisoners in Pakistan including 51 civilians and 558 fishermen.
This step is consistent with the clause (i) of the Agreement on Consular Access between Pakistan and India, signed on 21st May 2008, under which both countries are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody twice a year, on 1st January and 1st July, respectively.
It stated that the Indian government also simultaneously shared the list of 345 Pakistani prisoners in India including 271 civilians and 74 fishermen with the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement in New Delhi, confirmed the number of prisoners, the lists of which were exchanged through diplomatic channels.
“The [Indian] government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats, from Pakistan’s custody. In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of one Indian civilian prisoner and 295 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan,” it stated. In addition, it added that Pakistan has been asked to provide immediate consular access to 194 fishermen and 17 civilian prisoners who are in Pakistan’s custody and are believed to be Indian.
“The [Indian] government also requested Pakistan to expedite the grant of visas to the members of the medical experts’ team and facilitate their visit to Pakistan to assess the mental condition of believed-to-be Indian prisoners of unsound mind, lodged in different jails of Pakistan. It was also proposed to organise an early visit of the Joint Judicial Committee to Pakistan,” it added.
“India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country. In this context, India has also urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 78 Pakistan prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of nationality confirmation by Pakistan,” it stated.
In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, it added: “Pakistan has been requested to ensure the safety, security and welfare of all Indian and believed-to-be Indian civil prisoners and fishermen.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021