Pakistan is set to release 199 Indian fishermen who were arrested for fishing illegally in its waters, as a goodwill gesture, despite the death of an Indian civilian prisoner who was also supposed to be repatriated with them. The fishermen will be sent to Lahore and handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border. Meanwhile, the Indian prisoner, Zulfiqar, died in a Karachi hospital due to an illness. Although officials claim that his death was due to a lung infection, an official from the Edhi Welfare Trust, which helps in the transportation of Indian fishermen to Lahore, believes that conditions in the Landhi and Malir jails are not ideal, and prisoners with poor health and chronic ailments struggle to receive proper treatment.
The Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy reveals that despite completing their prison sentences, 631 Indian fishermen and one civilian prisoner are still in the Landhi and Malir jails in Karachi. Most of these Indian fishermen are poor and illiterate and ended up in Pakistani jails after being arrested for allegedly violating the marine territorial demarcation treaty between the two countries. Pakistan and India regularly arrest rival fishermen for violating the poorly marked maritime boundary.
The release of the Indian fishermen is a positive step towards improving bilateral relations between the two countries, which have been tense for several years. It is hoped that this gesture of goodwill will lead to the release of other prisoners and pave the way for future dialogue on important issues such as trade and security.
However, Zulfiqar’s death highlights the need for both countries to improve the conditions of their prisons and ensure that prisoners receive adequate medical treatment. It is essential to treat all prisoners humanely and with respect, regardless of their nationality or crime.
The release of the 199 Indian fishermen by Pakistan is a positive development that should be welcomed. It is essential that both Pakistan and India work towards improving the conditions of their prisons and ensure that all prisoners, regardless of their nationality, receive adequate medical care.