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Pak to free 367 Indian prisoners to send positive message

August 17, 2013 15:58 IST

Pakistan will release 367 Indian prisoners next week to send a positive message to its neighbour amid high tension due to firing on the Line of Control, Pakistani sources said on Saturday.

The two sides are trying to ease pressure on the Line of Control after about two weeks of ceasefire violations that started after five Indian soldiers were killed in an attack by Pakistani troops early this month.

"Yes, it is true that 367 Indian prisoners and fishermen are being released on August 24," a senior Pakistan Foreign Office official told PTI.

However, the official requested anonymity as the decision has not been officially announced as yet.

Hundreds of prisoners are currently being held in jails on both sides.

Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, told parliament on Friday that there were 491 Indian prisoners, including 437 fishermen and 54 civilians, in Pakistani prisons.

He said according to the record of the Foreign Office, there were at least 485 Pakistanis jailed in India, including 172 fishermen and 313 civilians. But the latest list provided by India on July 1 under a Consular Agreement shows that there are 386 prisoners in Indian jails, including 108 fishermen.

Aziz said the discrepancy of 99 prisoners had been taken up with the Indian authorities.

Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry told a weekly briefing yesterday that both "diplomatic and military channels" were being used to normalise the situation.

He said a meeting between the Prime Ministers on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in?September in New York would be an "useful opportunity" to build trust and consolidate ties.

Image: Fishermen from India stand behind bars in a police station in Karachi

Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

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