Islamabad: Pakistan Thursday freed 89 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, from a jail in the port city of Karachi as part of a process initiated by the two countries to speed up the release of people held in each other’s prisons for inadvertently crossing land and maritime boundaries.
After being released from Malir Jail, the Indian prisoners boarded buses that would take them to Lahore to be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah land border crossing tomorrow.
The Indian prisoners were arrested between September 2009 and January last year, TV news channels reported.
Their release was a follow-up to a meeting of the Interior and Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan in New Delhi last month.
Nasir Aslam Zahid, Chairman of the NGO Prisoners Welfare and Legal Aid Committee, told reporters that Pakistani authorities had granted consular access to another 33 Indian prisoners being held in Malir Jail.
They too will be released in the near future after the completion of certain formalities, he said.
“It is our endeavour to remove hurdles and delays in the release of detained fishermen on both sides of the border,” Zahid said.
On April 11, India released 39 Pakistani prisoners.
Both countries exchanged lists of prisoners during the meeting of the Interior and Home Secretaries last month.
The two countries are scheduled to exchange complete lists of prisoners on July 1 under an agreement on consular access signed in May 2008.
The process of releasing prisoners, which suffered a setback in the wake of the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, has picked up pace after the two countries recently agreed to resume their stalled peace process.