New Delhi, Mar 8: Pakistan on Wednesday accepted India’s proposal to release women, disabled and elderly inmates above 70 years locked in each other’s custody. Paving way for a comprehensive dialogue with a list of humanitarian measures, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif on Wednesday agreed to release inmates of these three categories. Also Read - India-China Ladakh Face-off: PM Modi Chairs High-Level Meet, Rajnath Too Takes Stock of Situation | Top 10 Points
“External Affairs Minister of India had, in October 2017, suggested to the High Commissioner of Pakistan that the two sides could progress on humanitarian issues related to elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. Also Read - Ladakh Standoff: Xi Jinping Tells Chinese Military to Scale-up Battle Preparedness
Pakistan also reached out to New Delhi extending two new proposals to include two more categories of prisoners for exchange — inmates who are either over 60 years of age and minors, Indian Express reported. Asif has also accepted New Delhi’s proposal to make available doctors to examine the mentally challenged inmates locked in each other’s custody so that they can be sent back. Also Read - Ladakh Standoff: After Defence Minister, PM Modi Meets NSA, CDS, 3 Service Chiefs; Reviews Situation
Pakistan foreign minister also stated that through such initiatives, the two countries will “embark on the road to a comprehensive dialogue” and make “conscious effort to de-escalate the extremely vitiated current environment and the situation” along the Line of Control (LoC).
The report mentioned that there are a total of 457 Indian prisoners (including 58 civilians) in Pakistan’s jails, and 344 Pakistani prisoners (including 250 civilians) in Indian jails, as of January 1 this year.
Responding to Pakistan accepting India’s proposal to release elderly, women, disabled prisoners locked in each other’s custody, New Delhi said that the neighbouring country has responded positively to the approach.
“We note that today Pakistan has responded positively to EAM’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. Further, a visit of a team of medical experts would be organised to meet the mentally unsound prisoners so as to facilitate the repatriation of such prisoners,” Kumar added.
The Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson further added that the two countries have agreed to resume the “visits of the Joint Judicial Committee which looks into the issues of fishermen and prisoners.”
“The officials on both sides would be working on the modalities to implement the understanding reached on these humanitarian issues,” he said.