'India willing to release all Pak fishermen'
Even as the dialogue process remains stalled, India today said it is willing to release all Pakistani fishermen after proper verification and undertake other humanitarian initiatives.delhi Updated: Oct 15, 2010 21:10 IST
Even as the dialogue process remains stalled, India on Friday said it is willing to release all Pakistani fishermen after proper verification and undertake other humanitarian initiatives.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who expects his Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Delhi during the early part of next year, said India wants to encourage the people-to-people contacts.
In an interaction with a group of journalists here, he said the two sides had reached agreements on such issues during the Foreign Ministerial talks in Islamabad in July but Pakistan had disfavoured making it public.
He, however, did not spell out the agreements that were reached but information regarding which was withheld.
Talking about humanitarian issues, Krishna said India is willing to release all the Pakistani fishermen held here.
Some of the Pakistani fishermen have been released but many others could not be as there were "some problems" related to verification of their identities, he said, adding Pakistan High Commission has been asked to expedite the process.
In a goodwill gesture last month on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, India had announced the release of 85 Pakistani prisoners, most of them fishermen lodged in various jails in the country. With this, a total of 213 Pakistani prisoners were released this year.
On September 6, a group of 141 Indian fishermen were released by Pakistani authorities from a Karachi jail, completing the process of freeing 442 fishermen who have undergone their prison terms.
On his talks with Qureshi in July, Krishna said the discussions were "useful and satisfactory" and "we were able to arrive" on agreements on a number of points like people-to-people contacts.
Contending that five hours of talks were not enough to address issues that are as old as 60 years, he said he had believed that the Foreign Ministerial meeting would open a way to other things but "that could not happen though there was agreement on a number of issues".
Krishna said there was a "possibility" of his meeting with Qureshi in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month and even the Joint Secretaries concerned were called there.
"At the High Commissioners level, moves were being made and based on that we were ready for meeting.... But this did not happen," he said, adding he felt that a meeting in New Delhi would be "more effective" than the one in New York.
He said he had a chance meeting with Qureshi in New York during which he enquired about the flood situation in Pakistan and his counterpart profusely thanked India for its 25 million dollar aid for the same.
Notwithstanding the lack of warmth in Indo-Pak ties, Krishna pressed the international community to "rush" with help to Pakistan which is facing a crisis because of massive floods.
"We have sympathy with Pakistan... I hope the international community will rush to Pakistan with aid in this hour (of crisis) caused by the devastating floods," he said.