The government on Wednesday told the Lok Sabha that the India-Pakistan relationship has become “sluggish” but added that there has been no impact on bilateral arrangements, including on exchange of fishermen and prisoners caught on either side. Responding to a question related to Indian fishermen being arrested by Pakistan, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said, “The relationship between the two countries (India and Pakistan) has become sluggish. But that has had no impact on such bilateral agreements.”
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The minister added that mechanisms have been put in place to ensure release of fishermen caught by either side. In addition, an India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners, consisting of retired judges from the higher judiciary of both countries, was constituted in 2008 to look into humanitarian aspects of the matter.
The committee was also to recommend measures to ensure humane treatment and expeditious release of fishermen and prisoners, who have completed their prison term.
“The last visit of the Committee to India was in 2013. It is now Pakistan’s turn to organise the next visit of the Committee and the government awaits further steps by Pakistan in this regard,” he said.
Singh said there are 516 Indians languishing in Pakistani jails, which includes 55 fishermen while, as of July 2016, there are 270 Pakistani civil prisoners and 37 Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails.
“During 2013, 2014 and 2015, three Indian civil prisoners and eight Indian fishermen have died in the custody of Pakistani authorities. In addition, one Indian civil prisoner and two Indian fishermen have died in 2016 so far,” Singh added.