KARACHI - Authorities on Thursday released as many as 145 Indian fishermen imprisoned in a Pakistani jail over illegally fishing in the Pakistani waters as part of a goodwill gesture.

Pakistan has recently announced the release of 291 Indian fishermen on humanitarian grounds in two phases.

This was the first batch of the Indian fishermen comprised of 145 Indian fishermen while the second batch comprised on 146 Indian fishermen are scheduled to be released and repatriated to India on January 7, stated Faisal Edhi, the head of the Edhi Foundation.

The Indian fishermen were arrested by Pakistani authorities for fishing illegally in Pakistani waters years ago.

On Thursday, the fishermen arrived at the Cantonment Station amidst tight security and boarded an Allama Iqbal Express train to Lahore.

Those released were also given gifts and cash prizes by Edhi Foundation charity, which traditionally helps in repatriation of Indian fishermen.

“From Lahore, these Indian fishermen will go back to their homeland (India) by crossing the Wagah Border,” explained Faisal Edhi.

Fishermen from Pakistan and India are frequently detained for illegally fishing in each other’s territorial waters since the Arabian Sea does not have a clearly defined marine border and the wooden boats lack the technology to avoid being drifting away.

While welcoming the decision by the Pakistani government about the release of the Indian fishermen on humanitarian grounds, Faisal Edhi also appealed to the Indian government to reciprocate and release Pakistani fishermen being held in India for past many years.

“It is a human rights issue as the families of them are the ones who suffer and needs a permanent solution to this regional issue,” he maintained.

Every year hundreds of Indian and Pakistani fishermen are arrested along with their boats by India and Pakistan as the maritime border in the Arabian Sea is poorly defined, and the boats lack technology needed to be precise of their location.

Both countries also use the release of fishermen to express goodwill from time to time. Hundreds of Indian fishermen are already imprisoned at District Jail Malir for illegally fishing in Pakistani waters.