Pakistan to free 35 Indian prisoners on I-Day

August 13th, 2008 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 13 (DPA) Pakistan Wednesday announced plans to release 35 Indian prisoners Friday on the occasion of India’s 61st Independence Day. The measure is a goodwill gesture and part of Pakistan’s strategy to improve relations with India, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said in a statement.

The group includes 34 fishermen captured by Pakistan’s maritime security forces after they entered Pakistani waters in search of a bigger catch, and one civilian, who has completed his prison term for illegally entering and staying in the country.

The detainees are to be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border crossing in the eastern Punjab province Aug 15, India’s Independence Day.

Pakistan freed 134 prisoners last year when the two countries celebrated six decades of their existence. The move was met by New Delhi with the release of more than 70 Pakistani nationals.

The arch rivals, who have fought three wars and nearly went for a fourth one in 2002, still hold dozens of each other’s nationals who continue to languish in prisons with little chances of repatriation.

However, both governments have been voluntarily releasing batches of detainees to stimulate their peace dialogue launched in 2004.

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