Home Global Village Foreign Office announces release of 360 Indian prisoners

Foreign Office announces release of 360 Indian prisoners


News Desk |

On Friday, Pakistan announced its decision of releasing 360 Indian prisoners, of which 355 are fishermen and five are civilians in the month of April.

During the weekly press briefing at the Foreign Office, official spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal noted, “As per the lists exchanged between both sides on 1 January 2019, there are 347 Pakistan prisoners (249 civilians, 98 fishermen) in Indian jails and 537 Indian prisoners (54 civilians, 483 fishermen) in Pakistani jails.”

Dr. Faisal stated that Pakistan has decided to release 360 Indian prisoners who have completed their term of sentence, and the prisoners will be released in four batches. 100 fishermen will be released on 8th April, 100 on 15th, followed by 100 on 22th and the last batch consisting of 55 fishermen and 5 civilians will be released on 29th April. While referring to the 347 Pakistani prisoners languishing in Indian jails, he noted, “We expect India to reciprocate”.

The FO spokesperson explained that Pakistan has urged New Delhi to “respect the 2003 Ceasefire agreement”, investigated these instances of violations, and instruct the “Indian forces to respect the ceasefire” in efforts to maintain peace on the borders.

It is important to note that Pakistan has taken the first step in addressing the longstanding issue of returning prisoners and fishermen as a gesture of goodwill despite the ongoing strife with India in the wake of the Pulwama attack.

Responding to a question on India’s response to Pakistan’s analysis of its dossier on Pulwama, which had failed to establish any links between Pakistan and the attack that claimed the lives of 44 Indian paramilitary soldier, Dr. Faisal informed that “we have not received response from India to our reply”.

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Commenting on Indian High Commission in Islamabad’s request for consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadav, Dr. Faisal noted that the case is currently in the International Court of Justice, and hence, “any mention of consular access at this stage is pointless”. He further added, “On the other hand, the specific questions we raised to India about passport of Commander Kulbhushan Jadav remain unanswered.”

Fate of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor

Dr. Faisal expressed his regret and disappointment over New Delhi’s decision to postpone the meeting on the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, which was scheduled for 2nd April 2019, as per the agreement reached in the joint statement of 14th March.

On Friday, Pakistan announced its decision of releasing 360 Indian prisoners, of which 355 are fishermen and five are civilians in the month of April.

He added that the postponed meeting was scheduled to discuss “areas of divergence” in order to finalize matters for the “expedited operationalization of the corridor. FO spokesperson stated, “According to India, it has sought postponement to seek clarification on Indian proposals on the modalities of the corridor and its concerns about “appointments to a committee to be associated with Kartarpur Corridor.”

In response to a question on the future of the Kartarpur Corridor project if India continues its delaying tactics, Dr. Faisal noted that Pakistan has conveyed its commitment to India. He stated, “Further development would only be possible when India reciprocates and comes to the dialogue table. Our position is clear and we want to open Kartarpur sahib Corridor, before the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, to allow devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara.”

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India’s Aggressive Posturing & Human Rights Violations in IAK

Dr. Faisal noted that Indian atrocities against the innocent Kashmiri population have “intensified” and the Indian occupation forces martyred ten Kashmiri civilians while conducting its notorious “so-called All-out cordon and search operations”. The spokesperson revealed that the martyred Kashmiris included Aaqib Ahmad Dar, Sajad Ahmad Khanday, Basharat Ahmad Mir, Danish Ahmad Dar, Ali Mohammad, Idrees, Zaffar Ahmad Pal, Aqib Ahmad Kumar, Muhammad Shafi and Towseef Ahmad Itoo from the Pulwama, Shopian, Kupwara and Budgam regions of IAK.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Muhammad Faisal urged the international community to demand India to put an end to its barbaric human rights violations and resolve the Kashmir dispute.

He moved the discussions towards Indian LoC violations and announced that in his capacity as the Director General SA & SAARC, he had summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Gaurav Ahluwalia and launched a strong complaint against the unprovoked ceasefire violations by India on the 1st and 2nd April, 2019. Dr. Faisal stated, “On 1st April, 4 innocent civilians and on 2nd April, 1 innocent civilian was martyred and 3 women sustained injuries in the ceasefire violations along LoC.”

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He further added, “On the same day, Indian troops intentionally targeted innocent civilians travelling in a civilian bus in Bagsar Sector. These violations are not only in clear contravention of existing arrangements, stipulations of International Law, but also violate international norms of morality.”

The FO spokesperson explained that Pakistan has urged New Delhi to “respect the 2003 Ceasefire agreement”, investigated these instances of violations, and instruct the “Indian forces to respect the ceasefire” in efforts to maintain peace on the borders.

Dr. Faisal expressed his regret and disappointment over New Delhi’s decision to postpone the meeting on the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, which was scheduled for 2nd April 2019, as per the agreement reached in the joint statement of 14th March.

Dr. Faisal then made an important announcement of a “landmark initiative”, which referred to an open letter addressed by the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “express their grave concern on the continuing human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoK).”

He added that the members of the European Parliament had penned down their concerns over India’s unchecked and undeterred use of pellet shotguns, which have led to mass cases of blindness amongst innocent Kashmiri protestors, not even sparing little children like the 19-months old Hiba Nisar. The MEPs also voiced their concerns over New Delhi’s “draconian laws”, which include the “Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA) which accord virtual impunity to the Indian occupation forces in IoK.”

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Dr. Faisal expressed Islamabad’s gratitude to all the MEPs and also highlighted that the reports on IAK issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UK Parliament’s All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) also did a commendable job of highlighting India’s gross human rights violations in the occupied valley, urging New Delhi to investigate the abuses and violations suffered by the innocent people of Kashmir.

Dr. Faisal emphasized, “We will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brothers and sisters in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”

Gilgit Baltistan’s Status

Responding to a question on Foreign Minister Qureshi’s statement on certain “elements in Gilgit Baltistan” that seek to destroy Pakistan’s peace and stability, Dr. Faisal noted, “The case of Commander Kulbhushan Jadav. You know the same country is trying to sabotage peace and stability in Pakistan.”

While commenting on the special status of Gilgit-Baltistan and the issue of purchasing land in the region, Dr. Faisal observed that since GB was a part of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, its special status is “maintained in line with the special status of Jammu & Kashmir”.

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While noting that Pakistan is still committed to the UN Security Council Resolutions, he added that the social and economic development of Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan “cannot be held hostage to Indian obstinacy”. Dr. Faisal remarked, “We are desirous of resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute but cannot let the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan remain in limbo.”

Reflecting on the US decision to sell 24 MH-60R helicopters to India, Dr. Faisal noted that the “Indian arms race” in South Asia was certainly a cause for “serious concern” for Pakistan, and Islamabad is engaged in taking all measures required to protect its sovereignty, especially since the country that is purchasing these US-manufactured helicopters is guilty of violating international law, as seen in the alleged Balakot strike on 26th February.

Dr. Faisal emphasized Pakistan’s stance against India’s aggressive posturing, “We remain prepared to give a befitting answer in case of any misadventure. Although our prime intention is to establish peace in the region we are not ignorant of the protection of our motherland.”

Mina Jahangir with additional input from News Desk. 

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