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Pakistan to release 99 Indian prisoners
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Coverage: India-Pakistan peace process
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May 20, 2008 15:25 IST

Pakistan will release 99 Indian prisoners, including 96 fishermen and three civilians, as a 'goodwill gesture' as the two countries begin the fifth round of the Composite Dialogue Process in Islamabad.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by Rahman Malik, advisor to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, on internal matters.

India had last week released 14 Pakistani fishermen and handed them to the Pakistani authorities at Wagah border.

According to the External Affairs Ministry, there are 436 fishermen and 205 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails and it was not possible to determine the details of sentences awarded.

The issues, related to the release of Indians from Pakistani jails, are taken up with the government of Pakistan consistently in different bilateral meetings, including at the highest level.

During the visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Pakistan last year, it was decided to form a Judicial Committee comprising judges from India and Pakistan, to ensure expeditious release and humane treatment of prisoners in either country.

The Committee first met on February 26-27 this year in New Delhi and recommended that a consolidated list with full particulars and their present status of nationals in each other's jails be exchanged on March 31 and those prisoners who have completed their sentences and whose national status has been verified be released forthwith.

The lists of prisoners have been exchanged by the two governments on March 31.

India expects Pakistan to implement the recommendations of the Judicial Committee to release and provide consular access to all detained fishermen and prisoners.

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