Pakistan today released 220 Indian fishermen held for allegedly violating territorial waters, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday, goodwill gestures that came despite strained ties over cross border terror incidents.
Modi took to Twitter to greet Sharif, a year after he made an unscheduled stopover in Lahore to meet the Pakistani leader on his birthday.
Pakistan responded by releasing the 220 fishermen lodged in Malir jail here, in what may seem a reciprocal gesture notwithstanding the severe chill in ties after a year of violence, tension and mistrust.
The fishermen were released in a “goodwill” gesture, Jail superintendent Hassan Sehto said.
They were arrested for allegedly entering Pakistan’s territorial waters illegally and fishing, Sehto told PTI.
“We have released 220 Indian fishermen today and they will be handed over to Indian officials at Wagah border.
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“The interior ministry ordered the release of the 220 fishermen while 219 are still in our custody,” Sehto said.
The fishermen boarded a train to Lahore and are expected to cross the border on Monday, he added.
The development comes amid strain in ties between the two countries after Pakistan-based terrorists attacked an Indian army base in Uri in September.
Pakistan and India frequently arrest each others’ fishermen for violating the territorial boundary. They spent months and sometimes years in jails before being repatriated.
Last week, the Pakistan fishermen forum claimed that Indian maritime authorities had picked up dozens of Pakistani fishermen from inside Pakistan’s territorial waters near the Gujarat coastline and taken them away, though the government has not responded to the claim so far.