Released Indian fishermen wait for buses after crossing the India-Pakistan border at Wagah, about 35 km from Amritsar, on Friday. Pakistan released 145 Indian fishermen who were arrested for allegedly fishing in their territorial waters.
Islamabad: Pakistani officials believe the unilateral decision to release 145 Indian fishermen by Pakistan would be seen in Indian as a “goodwill gesture” from Islamabad.
The decision was taken by Pakistan following tensions after a meeting between Kalbhushan Yadhav, an Indian death row prisoner in Pakistan, and his mother and wife. What Pakistani officials insist were only security measures have been considered by Indians as humiliation, when Pakistani security men asked the two women to change their clothes and remove bangles and ornaments.
The Indian fishermen were held in Pakistan for violating international water limits and fishing inside Pakistani areas. They were allowed to go back to India on Thursday following their release from Karachi’s Malir jail.
The freed fishermen were taken to Karachi Cantonment Railway Station amid tight security, from where they were taken to Lahore via the Allama Iqbal Express, to be handed over to Indian authorities at the Pakistan-India border.
Before leaving Pakistan the Indian fishermen reportedly appreciated the way they were treated by Pakistani jail authorities, and were delighted upon learning of their release.
They also promised that once they were in Indian they would request the authorities to release Pakistani prisoners in reciprocation, as a gesture of goodwill.
The Indian fishermen were also given gifts and cash prizes by internationally renowned NGO Satar Edhi.
Pakistan still has another batch of about 140 Indian prisoners and talks for their release are still going on.
A Pakistani military official, Major Azam Sher, was quoted by local media on Friday as saying that the released fishermen were handed over to Indian authorities at a border crossing near the eastern city of Lahore.
In December 2016, Pakistan had released 220 Indian fishermen followed by an Indian move to release a number of Pakistani fishermen.