India and Pakistan agree to release all women prisoners and those over 70 years of age

In October 2017, Swaraj had suggested to the Pakistan High Commissioner that the two sides could progress on humanitarian issues related to elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners.

India and Pakistan agree to release all women prisoners and those over 70 years of age

NEW DELHI: Ahead of International Women's Day, India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed to the release and repatriation of women prisoners as well as of those who are over 70 years of age. The neighbouring country has also approved revival of visits by the Joint Judicial Committee.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, it said, "Pakistan has responded positively to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's suggestion to work towards the release and repatriation of prisoners over 70 years of age and women prisoners who are in each other's custody."

In October 2017, Swaraj had suggested to the Pakistan High Commissioner that the two sides could progress on humanitarian issues related to elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners.

MEA, in its statement, further said, "A visit of a team of medical experts would be organised to meet mentally unsound prisoners so as to facilitate their repatriation. It has also been agreed to resume visits of the Joint Judicial Committee which looks into issues of fishermen and prisoners in each other's custody."

"The last visit of such a Committee had taken place in October 2013 to India. The officials on both sides would be working on the modalities to implement the understanding reached on these humanitarian issues," MEA added.

The development comes shortly after Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif approved humanitarian gestures for civilian prisoners incarcerated in both India and his country.

"Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has approved the exchange of three categories of prisoners: women, mentally challenged or with special needs and those above 70 years of age," the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.

In addition, Asif has also approved the exchange of prisoners above 60 years of age and child prisoners, below 18 years of age, the statement added.

Furthermore, the Pakistan Foreign Minister has agreed to facilitate the visit of medical experts (from both India and Pakistan) to meet and examine the mentally challenged prisoners for their repatriation.

The statement released by Pakistan informed that the humanitarian proposals were made by India. The spokesperson said that Asif has expressed the hope that India would positively reciprocate Pakistan's proposals, in the spirit that they have been made.

The statement further quoted Asif, as saying that it was his desire that through such initiatives, Pakistan and India would embark on the road to a comprehensive dialogue and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the extremely vitiated current environment and the situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.

(With inputs from agencies)

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