Pakistan to release 360 Indian prisoners in 4 phases through April 2019

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal announced that Pakistan will be releasing 360 Indian prisoners over the month of April, a process which will be carried out in four phases.

“It is hoped that India will respond positively to this decision by Pakistan,” Dr Faisal said while addressing his weekly briefing to the media in Islamabad.

Providing details regarding the release, the spokesperson said that currently there are 347 Pakistani prisoners in India and 537 Indian prisoners in Pakistan. Pakistan shall be releasing 360 Indian prisoners, of which 355 are fishermen and 5 are civilians.

According to Dr Faisal, in the first phase on April 8, 100 prisoners shall be released. In the second phase on April 5, another 100 shall be released. In the third phase on April 22, yet another 100 shall be released. In the fourth and last phase on April 29, the remaining 60 prisoners shall be released.

FO Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal

The spokesperson said that India’s response to Pakistan’s briefingregarding the Pulwama dossier was yet to be received. He further said that Pakistan is serious regarding the Kartarpur corridor and the world knows that it was India who backed out of discussions regarding the project.

After a productive technical meeting on March 19, India announced its decision 10 days later to postpone the next meeting (scheduled for April 2) in a statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

According to the MEA’s statement, “India has shared concerns and sought clarifications on reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee to be associated with the Kartarpur Corridor.”

However, it did not elaborate on what ‘controversial elements’ it was referring to.

Two days prior to the statement, media had reported that the Federal Cabinet had constituted a ten-member Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) to facilitate Sikh pilgrims after the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor.

Meanwhile, India had also proposed in its statement that infrastructure development for the corridor should go forward and “in an expeditious manner.”

“India has proposed to hold another meeting of technical experts in mid-April to resolve outstanding issues at the zero point agreed to at the last meeting,” the statement further clarified.

Dr Faisal termed India’s reservations regarding the opening of the corridor as “inappropriate” and said that if the corridor failed to open, India would be responsible.

Commenting on reports regarding the sale of anti-submarine weaponryto India by the US, Dr Faisal said that such decisions will lead to an escalation in the arms race within the region.

“A country which on February 27 tried to attack Pakistan is being sold weapons,” he regretted.

Regarding the ongoing crackdown against proscribed organisations, the spokesperson said that all steps taken for the implementation of the National Action Plan were in the country’s own interests and for which regular briefings to the diplomatic corps shall continue.