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'Pak, India must have policy on prisoners'

world Updated: Nov 14, 2011 12:15 IST

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Innocent people being arrested on both sides of the Pakistan-India border is not a trivial issue and both countries must "devise a joint policy regarding prisoner exchange", a Pakistani daily said on Monday.

It was indeed appalling that the authorities in India have been "oblivious of some 250 plus Pakistani prisoners languishing in captivity and that too, without ever having faced trial", an editorial in the Daily Times said.

Indian courts have been made aware of this situation that is a "blatant violation of not only the prisoners' right to liberty but also their right to a fair trial", it added.

"Often, people are captured for inadvertently crossing the border or trespassing into foreign waters, or they are prisoners of war, as there are reports of Pakistani prisoners being in Indian jails since the 1965 and 1971 wars.

"Imprisoning Pakistani and Indian fishermen or farmers raising livestock near borders on mere suspicion of them being spies is bad enough, but surely there is even less justification for depriving them of a fair trial," the editorial said.

It went on to add that such practices have a great deal to do with the longstanding conflict between the two countries.

"Pakistan's relationship with India has been tension-ridden and this has caused deep-rooted mistrust to say the least. However, that in itself is no ground for such negligence and inhumane treatment of prisoners, all of whom have worried families across the border," it said.

Calling for the repatriation process be expedited without further ado, it said an investigation should be conducted into how such a situation went unnoticed in the first place.

"The issue of innocent people being arrested on both sides of the border is not a trivial one and should be treated as such.

"Surely, there must be some record of these prisoners in both the countries and the governments must devise a joint policy regarding prisoner exchange or come to some sort of an agreement ensuring the legality of their detention, protection from abuse, and a safeguard of their legal and human rights," the editorial said.