As many as 17 Pakistani nationals, released by Indian authorities on completion of their prison sentences, were repatriated to their home country via the Wagah-Attari border on Friday. The Pakistani citizens were released due to “hectic efforts” of the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the cooperation of Indian authorities, the embassy said in a statement.
“Our efforts will continue to repatriate all Pakistani prisoners from India on completion of their sentences,” it added. The Pakistani citizens after returning to their homeland expressed joy and thanked Allah Almighty for their release.
Indian authorities handed over custody of the prisoners to the Punjab Rangers at the border.
The citizens were issued special travel documents by the High Commission in New Delhi to travel to Pakistan.
On January 1, Islamabad and New Delhi exchanged the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in each other’s custody.
The lists were exchanged under the provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access signed between the two countries in 2008. The agreement requires both India and Pakistan to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody twice a year, on January 1 and July 1.
India handed over a list of 309 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 95 fishermen in Indian custody to Pakistan.
Similarly, Pakistan shared a list of 49 civilian prisoners and 633 fishermen in its custody, who are or are believed to be Indians.
According to diplomatic sources, Pakistan had demanded the Indian government to release Pakistani nationals who have completed their sentences as soon as possible. India had also urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 57 Pakistani prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of nationality confirmation by Pakistan.