ISLAMABAD – Pakistan announced on Thursday the release of 291 fishermen from India as a gesture of goodwill amid tense relations between the two neighbors which have led to several ceasefire violations along their border.
The release and repatriation of the fishermen to India will be carried out in two phases, on Dec. 29 and Jan. 8, through the only active border crossing between the two countries at Wagah, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohamed Faisal said at a press conference.
Faisal said that it was a humanitarian gesture and a sign of goodwill, and should not be politicized.
In October, the Pakistani authorities released 68 Indian fishermen.
Arrests of Pakistani or Indian fishermen trespassing in each other’s territorial waters are common; some end up spending several years in prison.
In July, Pakistan and India exchanged lists of their citizens imprisoned in their respective countries.
There are 546 Pakistanis languishing in Indian jails, 494 of whom are fishermen. New Delhi has yet to release any data on its own prisoners in Pakistan.
The announcement of the planned release of the Indian fishermen follows an increase in alleged ceasefire violations along the border between the two countries.
Pakistan has accused India of 1,300 ceasefire violations so far this year, compared to 382 in 2016.
In October, India accused Pakistan of 503 ceasefire violations in 2017.
India and Pakistan have been engaged in a dispute over the Kashmir region, following the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, and have fought three wars and clashed several times since.