KARACHI - Pakistani authorities, as a goodwill gesture, released 172 Indian fishermen from District Jail Malir on Sunday.

The fishermen were held by Pakistani security forces for violating territorial waters in Arabian Sea.

“As a gesture of goodwill, we have released 172 Indian fishermen while 349 more Indian inmates are awaiting their release orders,” said Malir district jail superintendent Muhammad Hassan Sehto.

The fishermen will travel to Lahore by train, where they will be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah Border.

Earlier on February 9, the ministry of interior had approved the release of 172 Indian fishermen and subsequently informed the provincial government about the matter.

The jail authorities with the assistance of non-governmental organisations, including Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) and Saiban Welfare Organisation, gave cash and gifts to the Indian fishermen to celebrate their release.

Meanwhile, the PFF chairperson, Muhammad Ali Shah, has demanded an amicable resolution to the issue of fishermen’s detention by both Pakistani and the Indian security forces.

He demanded governments of both countries to release all the imprisoned fishermen on humanitarian grounds.

The release coincided with a cricket blockbuster World Cup match between nuclear-armed arch-rivals Pakistan and India in Adelaide, Australia.

AFP adds: Such arrests are frequently carried out by both countries as the maritime border in the Arabian Sea is poorly defined, and many fishing boats lack the technology needed to be certain of their precise location.

The fishermen often languish in jail even after serving their terms due to poor diplomatic ties between the arch-rivals. Another government official in Karachi confirmed the number and release of the fishermen. It was unclear how long they had been held prior to their release.

Last month, Pakistani marine forces arrested 38 Indian fishermen after they strayed into Pakistani waters.

Relations between Pakistan and India have taken a turn for the worse in recent months, with shelling on the disputed border in Kashmir.