Lahore: Pakistan on Wednesday released 17
Indian prisoners as a goodwill gesture, a day ahead of Foreign
Secretary-level talks aimed at bridging the trust deficit
between the two neighbours.
The prisoners were handed over to India`s Border
Security Force at the Wagah land border near this eastern
Pakistani city, Pakistan Rangers spokesman Nadeem Raza told
Officials from Pakistan`s Interior Ministry and the
Indian High Commission in Islamabad were present on the
The prisoners were arrested and given prison terms
by courts for a variety of offences like overstaying in
Pakistan, smuggling and illegally crossing the frontier.
Talking to the media before they crossed the border,
the prisoners expressed joy at their release and thanked the
They said they were happy to know that they would
soon be reunited with their families.
Raza said all the freed prisoners had completed
their jail terms. Hundreds of Indians and Pakistanis,
including scores of fishermen, are languishing in prisons in
both countries on charges of spying or illegal entry.
Efforts to speed up the release of prisoners suffered
a setback when relations were strained by the 2008 Mumbai
The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan are set
to hold talks in Islamabad tomorrow to find ways to bridge the
trust deficit between the two sides and to prepare the ground
for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers on July 15.
Home Minister P Chidambaram will arrive in Islamabad
on June 25 to attend a meeting of SAARC Interior Ministers the
He will also hold talks with his Pakistani
counterpart Rehman Malik.