New Delhi. In yet another new year goodwill gesture, India and Pakistan on January 1 exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody.
This is in keeping with the provisions of the 2008 Agreement under which such lists are exchanged on January 1 and July 1 every year.
India handed over lists of 249 Pakistan civilian prisoners and 98 fishermen in India’s custody to Pakistan. Pakistan has shared lists of 54 civilian prisoners and 483 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or believed-to-be-Indians.
The Government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats. In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 17 Indian civilian prisoners and 369 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed.
Immediate consular access has also been sought for the remaining prisoners and fishermen to facilitate their early release and repatriation.
India has also asked Pakistan to expedite response in the case of 80 Pakistan prisoners, who have completed their sentences and await repatriation for want of nationality confirmation by Pakistan.
To take forward the understanding reached to address the humanitarian issues, especially with respect to elderly, women and mentally unsound prisoners, India has already shared the details of the reconstituted Joint Judicial Committee and that of the Indian medical experts team to visit Pakistan to meet the mentally unsound prisoners and asked to expedite their visit.
Pakistan has also been requested to expedite the visit of a group of fishermen representatives to facilitate the repatriation of Indian fishing boats, presently held in Pakistan’s custody at the earliest.