ISLAMABAD - The governments of Pakistan and India on Monday exchanged lists of prisoners languishing in each other’s respective jails.

According to the Consular Agreement signed between the two countries in May 2008, lists of prisoners are to be exchanged twice a year: on 1 January and 1 July respectively. Consistent with the provisions of this agreement, the Foreign Office handed over to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, a list of 491 Indian prisoners lodged in Pakistani jails.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs also handed over a similar list of 386 Pakistani prisoners to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.

Upon receipt of these lists, the respective interior/home ministries consult the provincial home departments and jail authorities to ascertain how many of the prisoners are completing their jail term. Accordingly, upon completion of the jail terms these prisoners are released.

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.

Pakistan released 46 Indian fishermen in May last as a goodwill gesture and is making arrangements for the release of 11 Indian civil prisoners by the mid of this month.