New Delhi : India and Pakistan on Saturday exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a press release.
Under the provisions of the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access, such lists are exchanged every year on January 1 and July 1. “India has shared lists of 343 civilian prisoners and 74 fishermen in its custody, who are Pakistani or are believed to be Pakistani. Similarly,
Pakistan has shared lists of 42 civilian prisoners and 266 fishermen in its custody, who are Indian or are believed to be Indian,” read MEA’s official release.
It added that the Government of India 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 254 Indian fishermen and 04 Indian civilian prisoners, who have completed their sentence. In addition, Pakistan has been asked to provide immediate consular access to the remaining 12 fishermen and 14 civilian prisoners in Pakistan’s custody, who are believed to be Indian. Pakistan has been requested to ensure the safety, security and welfare of all Indian and believed to be Indian civilian prisoners and fishermen, pending their release and repatriation to India,” said the official release.
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 urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 62 believed to be Pakistani prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of nationality confirmation from Pakistan.
Since 2014, as a result of sustained efforts by the Government, as many as 2,559 Indian fishermen and 63 Indian civilian prisoners have been repatriated from Pakistan. This includes 398 Indian fishermen and 05 Indian civilian prisoners who were repatriated from Pakistan this year, so far, the MEA release added.