Pakistan to release Indian prisoners in Independence Day gesture


Pakistan will release 30 Indian prisoners from its jails as a humanitarian gesture to mark the country's independence day, the Foreign Ministry announced on Monday. The announcement came amid a tense calm at the shared border between the nuclear-armed neighbours after years of deadly clashes in the disputed Himalayan valley of Kashmir.

 Pakistan will celebrate its independence day on Tuesday, to mark the creation of the country on 14 August 1947.

The South Asian rivals often detain each other citizens, most of whom have crossed the long, poorly guarded border by accident. Nearly 90 percent of the prisoners are fishermen who inadvertently sailed across two countries' territorial waters in the Arabian Sea. These prisoners sometimes languish in jails for years in a hostile environment under what humanitarians from both countries describe as inhumane condition.

At least 27 prisoners being released by Pakistan later on Monday are fishermen, the ministry said in a statement. "This is in line with our consistent policy of not politicising humanitarian issues," the statement added, "It is our hope that the Indian side will also reciprocate in a similar manner." Hundreds of civilians and soldiers have been killed on both sides in border clashes since 2013. Pakistan and Indian have fought three wars - and came to the brink of a fourth one - since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.    (dpa)

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