NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan exchanged the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody through diplomatic channels simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday. Such lists are exchanged through diplomatic channels on January 1 and July 1 every year keeping with the provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access signed in May 2008.
"India and Pakistan today exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody. Under the provisions of the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access, such lists are exchanged every year on 01 January and 01 July," MEA statement read. India handed over lists of 309 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 95 fishermen in India's custody to Pakistan.
Similarly, Pakistan has shared lists of 49 civilian prisoners and 633 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or are believed to be Indians. The Ministry of External Affairs 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 03 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 Indian," the statement read further. India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other's country.
Meanwhile, 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 Indian and believed-to-be Indian civilian prisoners and fishermen, the statement added.