Pak to free 100 Indian fishermen as 'goodwill gesture'
Posted on: 11:27 AM IST Dec 23, 2009
Karachi: Pakistan has ordered the release on humanitarian grounds of 100 Indian fishermen languishing in prison for illegally venturing into its territorial waters, the prime minister's office said.
Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained since the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai last year by Pakistani-based militants.
India suspended a peace process, which had brought better ties, and there has been no progress towards getting it resumed.
Analysts say another militant strike in India could risk bringing the neighbours to the brink of conflict.
India and Pakistan arrest each other's fishermen for encroachment and often release them as a show of goodwill.
"As a humanitarian gesture, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has decided to unilaterally release 100 Indian fishermen who have been in Pakistani custody," the prime minister's office said in a statement released late on Tuesday.
A prison official in the port city of Karachi, where the fishermen are being kept, said nine children were among the group of 100 to be released.
"We have made arrangements to release 100 fishermen, as directed by the government, out of the 618 currently being held in Karachi jails," said Shahab Siddiqui, assistant superintendent of Karachi's Malir prison.
They would be repatriated on Thursday, Gilani's office said.
Pakistan had also proposed the revival of a joint judicial committee to resolve the issue of prisoners and fishermen in each other's custody, the office said.