India on Monday released 11 Pakistani civil prisoners via the Wagah Border as a 'goodwill gesture' after the neighbouring country sought their release as all the prisoners had served their sentence. This comes amid the ongoing case of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April.
The release of the prisoners also comes four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit after 17 months. PM Modi had enquired about Sharif's health as he had recently undergone a surgery. The Prime Minister also asked about the health of Sharif's mother.
Last week, India had released two Pakistani children — 11-year-old Ali Reza and 10-year-old Babur — after they accidentally crossed the International Border in Pakistan, along with their uncle. However, their uncle Mohammed Shahzad is still in India's custody. The Indian government had decided to release the children in April, but put the release on hold after a Pakistani army court sentenced Jadhav to death for espionage.
Indian officials were quoted by the Times of India as saying that the release of the 11 prisoners was a humanitarian issue and, therefore, should not be linked to tension in Indo-Pak ties over the Jadhav case. The government also hopes that Pakistan will facilitate the release of Indian prisoners lodged in their prison.
According to India, around 57 prisoners out of the 132 Indian prisoners presently lodged in jails in Pakistan have already completed their sentence. The Pakistan government has said that India needs to confirm their nationality before Pakistan begins the process of releasing them.