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Goodwill gesture: Pakistan frees 220 Indian fishermen

Pakistan on Sunday released 220 Indian fishermen held for trespassing into its territorial waters as a “goodwill gesture” to its nuclear-armed rival India, officials said.

“We released 220 Indian fishermen today as a goodwill gesture,” Deputy Superintendent of Karachi’s Malir prison Hassan Sehto told AFP, adding that 219 others still remain in Pakistani custody.

The freed fishermen are expected to cross over into India on Monday.

Indian and Pakistani fishermen are frequently detained for illegal fishing since the Arabian Sea border is not clearly defined and many boats lack the technology to fix their precise location.

The fishermen often languish in jail, even after serving their terms, as poor diplomatic ties between the two neighbours mean fulfilling bureaucratic requirements can take a long time.

Tensions simmer between Pakistan and India following an alleged ‘surgical strike’, unrest in Kashmir and the Uri army base attack.

The Indian deputy high commissioner has been summoned to the Foreign Office several times in protest against ‘unprovoked’ Indian fire and loss of lives due to incidents of cross-border firing.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped up a drive to isolate Pakistan diplomatically after the Uri army base attack. Hours after the attack occurred, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’ and accused Pakistan of involvement.

The Uri attack occurred days before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was set to address the United Nations General Assembly regarding Indian human rights violations in held Kashmir.

Following the attack, India claimed it had conducted a cross-border ‘surgical strike’ against ‘launch pads of terror’ in Azad Jammu and Kashmir — a claim Pakistan has strongly rejected.

Pakistan maintains that India is attempting to divert the world’s attention away from atrocities committed by government forces in India-held Kashmir.

Pakistan and India have, most recently, locked horns over Kashmir since Indian forces stepped up a crackdown against protesters after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by government forces in July.

courtesy : dawn news

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