ISLAMABAD - Following the release of 150 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture in May last, Pakistan on Monday decided to release 57 fishing boats that were in its custody.
Foreign Office said that the government of Pakistan views the issue of prisoners as a humanitarian one and continues to make efforts for their release as soon as their prison sentence has been completed. It also called upon the government of India to adhere to the Consular Agreement of 2008 and recommendations of the judicial committee on prisoners to ensure that all those Pakistani prisoners are released whose sentences have been completed.
According to Foreign Office, a nine-member Indian delegation visited Karachi from 18-20 July to inspect the boats and discuss modalities for the release with officials of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA).
While every effort is made by the PMSA to keep the boats in good condition, however, some minor repairs are still required before the boats could be physically handed over. In this regard, a follow-up visit of Indian officials would take place sometime in August to oversee the repairs before they are returned in mid-September.
The PMSA authorities often apprehend Indian fishermen and boats when they violate Pakistan territorial waters. Usually the boats are not in seaworthy condition and are not returned. However, following instructions from the prime minister to return these boats, hectic efforts were undertaken by the PMSA to ensure that the boats are returned to their rightful owners.