INDIA. Mumbai: In keeping with the provisions of the May 2008 agreement, India and Pakistan exchanged, the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad on New Year Day.
As per the agreement, such lists are exchanged every year on January 01 and July 01 by India and Pakistan. India handed over the list of 263 Pakistan civilian prisoners and 77 fishermen in its custody to Pakistan. Similarly, Pakistan shared the list of 49 civilian prisoners and 270 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or believed-to-be Indians, an official communication from the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated.
The Government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel, and fishermen, along with their boats, from Pakistan’s custody. In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 03 Indian civilian prisoners and 185 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan. Also, Pakistan has been asked to provide immediate consular access to Indian fishermen and 22 civilian prisoners who are in Pakistan’s custody and are believed to be Indian.
The Government also requested Pakistan to expedite the grant of visas to the members of the medical expert’s team and facilitate their visit to Pakistan to assess the mental condition of believed-to-be Indian prisoners of unsound mind, lodged in different jails of Pakistan. The Government is also planning to organize an early visit of its Joint Judicial Committee to Pakistan.
India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those about prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country. In this context, India has also urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 80 Pakistan prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of nationality confirmation by Pakistan. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan has been requested to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of all Indian and believed-to-be Indian civil prisoners and fishermen, MEA stated.
India and Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear installations
On Friday, India, and Pakistan also exchanged, the list of nuclear installations and facilities, covered under the agreement on the prohibition of attack against nuclear installations and facilities between India and Pakistan.
The Agreement, which was signed on December 31, 1988, and came into force on January 27, 1991, provides, that India and Pakistan inform each other of the nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on the first of January of every calendar year. This is the 30th consecutive exchange of such a list between the two countries, the first one having taken place on January 01, 1992.
The exchange of information came despite the ongoing strife between both the countries.
The relationship dipped after India’s warplanes pounded a terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019, in response to the Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.
Tensions between the two nations spiked further after New Delhi abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories. Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic relations with India and expelled the Indian high commissioner following the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019.
Asserting that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”, India defended the imposition of restrictions in the Kashmir Valley because they were put to prevent Pakistan from creating more mischief through proxies and terrorists.