India releases 39 Pakistani prisoners

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In a reciprocal gesture after Islamabad freed 200 Indian prisoners lodged in jails in Pakistan, India on Wednesday freed 39 Pakistani prisoners lodged in jails here.

“Thirty-nine Pakistani prisoners, comprising 21 civil prisoners and 18 fishermen, whose nationality has been confirmed by Pakistani authorities, are being repatriated to Pakistan via Attari/Wagah on March 1, 2017,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“The Government of India attaches highest importance to addressing all humanitarian matters, including early release and repatriation of all eligible Indian civil prisoners and fishermen,” it added.

Pakistan released over 200 Indian fishermen lodged in jails there on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s birthday in December last year.

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Islamabad followed this up by releasing Chandi Babulal Chavan, an Indian soldier who had inadvertently crossed into Pakistani territory.

India-Pakistan ties had dipped to a new low in 2016 with cross-border terror attacks on Indian targets.

Observers see a thaw in the bilateral relationship with the latest gestures on the part of New Delhi and Islamabad.