Pakistan today released 78 Indian fishermen held for trespassing into its territorial waters, officials said. “The fishermen were released from Karachi’s Landhi jail,” an official of the provincial home department of Sindh, Naseem Siddiqui told AFP. The freed fishermen are expected to cross over into India tomorrow. Siddiqui said “298 Indian fishermen are still imprisoned and will be released on completion of the verification of their nationalities by India.” Indian and Pakistani fishermen are frequently detained for illegal fishing since the Arabian Sea border is not clearly defined and many boats lack the technology to fix their precise location.
The fishermen often languish in jail, even after serving their terms, as poor diplomatic ties between the two neighbours mean fulfilling bureaucratic requirements can take a long time. Relations between India and Pakistan have plummeted since a deadly attack on an Indian army base in the disputed region of Kashmir in September, that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan- based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the Himalayan territory in full and have fought two wars over the mountainous region.