Islamabad: Pakistan will release 101 Indian prisoners, a majority of them fishermen, as a goodwill gesture ahead of a meeting between the interior secretaries of the two countries later this week.
Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik said 99 Indian fishermen and two other prisoners would be freed before the meeting of Pakistan’s interior secretary and India’s home secretary here on 25 November.
Asking India to reciprocate the gesture, Malik said hundreds of Pakistanis languishing in Indian prisons should be freed at the earliest.
Leading Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney told PTI that he had been informed by officials that the Indian prisoners were likely to be freed tomorrow or the day after. He said the two Indian prisoners being released had completed their prison terms.
“There are many other Indian prisoners who have completed their sentences but are still in jail. I have also taken up their case with the authorities,” he said.
Meanwhile, official sources said the 99 fishermen who are to be released were arrested between two and six years ago. The two other Indian prisoners had been in jail for a longer period, they said.
India recently freed 29 Pakistani prisoners who had completed their jail terms. During their meeting, Pakistan’s interior secretary and India’s home secretary are expected to discuss measures for countering terrorism and drug trafficking and liberalising the visa regime between the two countries among other things.
The talks will be part of the fifth round of composite dialogue launched by India and Pakistan four years ago.