As the global community marked the ‘International Women’s Day’ on March 8 through various events, India and Pakistan commemorated the movement for women’s rights in a different way this year.
The two South Asian neighbours announced on Thursday that they would release and repatriate women prisoners soon. New Delhi and Islamabad also announced that they would release those who are over 70 years of age. The two arch-rivals made the announcement just a day after they agreed to resume visits by the Joint Judicial Committee in order to resolve the humanitarian crisis faced by their people.
The Indian government stated that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi Sohail Mahmood in October 2017 that the two sides should address humanitarian issues together. She said that India and Pakistan should release elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners as soon as possible. “We note that today Pakistan has responded positively to Swaraj’s suggestion. She had suggested to work towards the release and repatriation of prisoners over 70 years of age and women prisoners who are in each other’s custody,” stressed the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
Meanwhile, the ministry revealed that India would send a delegation of medical experts to Pakistan to meet the mentally unsound prisoners in an attempt to facilitate the repatriation of such prisoners. “It has also been agreed to resume the visits of the Joint Judicial Committee which looks into the issues of fishermen and prisoners in each other’s custody. The last visit of such a Committee had taken place in October 2013 to India,” added the ministry.
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, spokesperson of the Pakistani Foreign Office Mohammad Faisal stressed: “Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, after consulting with all the stakeholders, has approved the humanitarian proposals, which had been received from the Indian side, regarding the civilian prisoners incarcerated in both the countries.” He informed the press that the minister made two more humanitarian proposals to India: to exchange of prisoners above 60 years of age and the exchange of child prisoners. The Pak minister expressed hope that India would accept his proposals.
Political experts in India and Pakistan have welcomed the two countries’ decision to ‘normalise’ bilateral ties through such initiatives. They believe such moves will help New Delhi and Islamabad restart a comprehensive dialogue and de-escalate the tension along the Line of Control in near future.
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