Pakistan frees 70 Indian prisoners | india | Hindustan Times
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Pakistan frees 70 Indian prisoners

india Updated: Dec 23, 2006 14:39 IST

Pakistan on Friday released 70 Indian prisoners, including 50 fishermen, from jails in Karachi and Lahore, a government official said.

"We are sending 50 Indian fishermen to Lahore today from where they will be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border," Tariq, an official in the home ministry, said as the Indians boarded a bus at Landhi jail in Karachi.

Another 20 Indians would be taken to Wagah from jails in Lahore, he said.

Saram Burney of the Ansar Burney Welfare Trust, which has been working for the release of the prisoners, India would hand over 47 Pakistani prisoners.

The Indians will be handed over to officials from their country on Saturday. "It will take them a day to reach Lahore," Burney said.

"They are all excited and happy to be returning home. We hope that very soon we will be able to send more Indian fishermen home with the cooperation of the government."

The Indian fishermen include children aged 15 to 18 years. They were arrested while illegally fishing in Pakistan's exclusive economic zone in the Arabian sea.

Both countries frequently arrest each other's fishermen and many of them are left to languish in jails for months.

"Both countries must reach a clear agreement on the disputed Sir Creek area because fishermen on both sides don't intentionally stray into each other's coastal waters. Since there is no clear demarcation in the Arabian sea they don't know where they are going," said official Sami Memon.

Pakistan and Indian officials met in Islamabad on Friday to discuss the issue of Sir Creek, a disputed estuary that has hindered exploration of oil and gas and led to the arrests of fishermen from both countries.