Lahore: Thirty-one Pakistani nationals
released from Indian prisons received a warm welcome from
civil society groups when they arrived in this eastern city
The freed prisoners included seven fishermen. They
were received and garlanded by members of civil society
organisations at the Wagah land border.
Emotional scenes were witnessed as they kissed the
soil and chanted slogans like "Pakistan Zindabad".
India`s Border Security Force handed over the
prisoners to the Pakistan Rangers, which will send them to
their homes after an investigation.
The Pakistanis were jailed in India on charges of
mistakenly crossing the border, visa tampering and overstay.
Farzana Mumtaz of the NGO South Asia Partnership
Pakistan told reporters that the release of Pakistani and
Indian prisoners was made possible by the efforts of the civil
Pakistani authorities recently freed 442 Indian
fishermen who had completed their prison terms after two NGOs
filed a case in the Supreme Court seeking their release.
The fishermen were arrested for violating Pakistan`s
maritime boundary and had been held in jail for years after
they had completed their prison terms ranging from six months
to a year.
A delegation of Pakistani civil society organisations
comprising Justice (retired) Nasir Aslam, Iqbal Haider and
Karamat Ali Shah recently visited India and held meetings with
Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister P
Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and rights
activists Kuldeep Nayar, Mahesh Bhatt and Jatin Desai to seek
the release of Pakistani prisoners.
As a result, the Indian government agreed to release
89 Pakistani prisoners.
The first batch comprised the 31 prisoners who
returned to Pakistan today.
"The remaining 58 will be home once Pakistani
authorities complete their paper work," Mumtaz said.