Islamabad, May 20: Pakistan will release 99 Indian prisoners, including 96 fishermen and three civilians, as a ''goodwill gesture'' as the two countries begin the fifth round of the Composite Dialogue Process (CDP) here.
The announcement was made here today by Mr Rahman Malik, advisor to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on internal matters. India had last week released 14 Pakistani fishermen and handed them to the Pakistani authorities at Wagah border. According to the External Affairs Ministry, there are 436 fishermen and 205 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails and it was not possible to determine the details of sentences awarded.
The issues related to the release of Indians from Pakistani jails are taken up with the Government of Pakistan consistently in different bilateral meetings including at the highest level.
During the last year visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Pakistan, it was decided to form a Judicial Committee comprising judges from India and Pakistan to ensure expeditious release and humane treatment of prisoners in either country. The Committee first met on 26-27 February this year in New Delhi and recommended that a consolidated list with full particulars and their present status of nationals in each other's jails be exchanged on March 31 and those prisoners who have completed their sentences and whose national status has been verified be released forthwith.
The lists of prisoners have been exchanged by the two Governments on March 31.
India expects the Government of Pakistan to implement the recommendations of the Judicial Committee to release and provide consular access to all detained fishermen and prisoners.