India and Pakistan on Friday exchanged through diplomatic channels simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad, lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody.
India handed over lists of 309 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 95 fishermen in India's custody. Similarly, Pakistan shared lists of 49 civilian prisoners and 633 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or are believed to be Indians. Under the provisions of the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access, such lists are exchanged every year on January 1 and July 1.
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 536 Indian fishermen and three Indian civilian prisoners to India, who have completed their sentence and whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan.
"In addition, Pakistan has been asked to provide immediate consular access to the remaining 105 fishermen and 20 civilian prisoners, who are in Pakistan's custody and are believed to be Indians," said the Ministry of External Affairs.
The MEA said that India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to 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 57 Pakistani prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of nationality confirmation by Pakistan. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan has been requested to ensure the safety, security and welfare of all Indians and believed-to-be Indian civilian prisoners and fishermen."