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Pakistan approves prisoner swap deal with India

Pakistan on Wednesday approved India’s proposal to release elderly and juvenile prisoners on humanitarian grounds.

Foreign minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif, after consulting with all the stakeholders, has approved the Indian ‘humanitarian proposals’, said a foreign ministry statement.

The Indian proposals, the statement said, had been received “regarding the civilian prisoners incarcerated in both the countries”.

It said: “Pakistan has agreed to the exchange of three categories of prisoners: women, mentally challenged or with special needs and those above 70 years of age.”

The foreign minister expressed hope that India would “positively reciprocate Pakistan’s proposals, in the spirit that they have been made”.

He also said it was his desire that through such initiatives, Pakistan and India would embark on the road to a comprehensive dialogue, and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the “extremely vitiated current environment and the situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.”

In January, the transfer of lists of prisoners took place between Pakistan and India. Under an agreement, both Pakistan and India have to transfer the lists of prisoners of each country detained in other side twice a year.

The lists are transferred on January 1 and July 1 each year. Pakistan handed over a list of 457 Indian prisoners to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and India reciprocated by giving a list of Pakistani prisoners to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.

Out of 457 Indian prisoners held by the Pakistani authorities, there are 399 fishermen. Pakistan released 146 Indian fishermen on January 8.

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