INDIA on Thursday (1) asked Pakistan to ensure early release and repatriation of its civilian prisoners and defence personnel languishing in Pakistani jails. The two neighbours exchanged lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in each other’s custody in line with the provisions of a agreement made in 2008.
India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) said the country handed over a list of 271 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 74 fishermen who are in the Indian custody. Pakistan also shared a list of 51 civilian prisoners and 558 fishermen who are Indians or are believed to be Indians, in its custody, the ministry added.
“The 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,” it said.
India asks Pakistan to give consular access to fishermen, civilian prisoners in Pakistan custody
“In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 1 Indian civilian prisoner and 295 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan,” the Indian ministry added in a statement. It also said that Pakistan has been asked to give immediate consular access to 194 fishermen and 17 civilian prisoners who are in Pakistan’s custody and are believed to be Indians.
“The 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,” the MEA said.
The ministry said India has stood firm to addressing all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen held in each other’s custody. The MEA said that it has also urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 78 Pakistani prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of confirmation of nationality by the government in Islamabad.
“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan has been requested to ensure the safety, security and welfare of all Indian and believed-to-be Indian civil prisoners and fishermen,” the MEA said.