More than 500 Indians, mostly fishermen, are languishing in various jails in Pakistan, according to an official report. The Interior Ministry said there were a total of 996 foreign nationals, including 527 Indians, in Pakistani jails for allegedly being involved in various crimes, including terrorism, murder, drug smuggling, and for illegally entering into the country. Most of the Indian prisoner are fishermen who have been arrested for fishing illegally in Pakistan’s territorial waters in the Arabian Sea, it said. Fishermen from Pakistan and India are frequently taken in to custody for illegally fishing in each other’s territorial waters since the Arabian Sea does not have a clearly defined marine border and the wooden boats, used by them, lack the technology to avoid them from drifting away.
Last month, 55 Indian fishermen were arrested by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency for fishing in the country’s territorial waters. Among the other foreign prisoners are, a Saudi national and two Chinese, the ministry said. On the other hand, a total of 9,476 Pakistani nationals were in prisons in 100 countries, a Foreign Ministry official told the Lahore High Court yesterday.
While hearing a plea by families of prisoners incarcerated in the Gulf countries, the official said, majority of Pakistani prisoners abroad are in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The high court then ordered the government to place before it within two months the country’s consular protection policy.
Under the policy, Pakistani missions abroad would be tasked with providing consular access to Pakistani citizens in foreign jails.