India, Pakistan exchange lists of nuke facilities, prisoners

India and Pakistan on Sunday exchanged lists of nuclear installations that cannot be attacked in the event of hostilities, maintaining a tradition dating back to 1992 despite bilateral ties being at an all-time low.

The two sides further exchanged lists of prisoners held in each other’s jails, and the Indian side sought the early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing defence personnel and fishermen, along with their boats, from Pakistan’s custody.

The lists of nuclear installations and facilities were simultaneously exchanged through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad according to provisions of the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities. Both sides do not disclose details of such facilities.

The agreement, which was signed on December 31, 1988 and entered into force on January 27, 1991, provides that “India and Pakistan inform each other of the nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the Agreement on the first of January of every calendar year”, the external affairs ministry said.

This was the 32nd consecutive exchange of such lists between the two countries, the first one having taken place on January 1, 1992.

Under the provisions of the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access, the two sides also exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody twice a year, on January 1 and July 1, through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad.

The external affairs ministry said India currently has 339 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 95 fishermen in its custody. Pakistan shared a list of 51 civilian prisoners and 654 fishermen in its custody “who are Indians or are believed to be Indians”.

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“The government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel, and fishermen along with their boats, from Pakistan’s custody,” the ministry said in a statement.

“In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 631 Indian fishermen and 02 Indian civilian prisoners, who have completed their sentence and whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan.”

In addition, Pakistan was asked to provide immediate consular access to 30 fishermen and 22 civilian prisoners in its custody who are believed to be Indians.

“India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country. In this context, India has also urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 71 Pakistani prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of nationality confirmation from Pakistan,” the statement said.

“Pakistan has been requested to ensure the safety, security and welfare of all Indian and believed-to-be Indian civilian prisoners and fishermen, pending their release and repatriation to India,” it added.

The signing of the 2008 agreement had helped speed up the identification and release of hundreds of prisoners, a majority of them fishermen. However, the process has been hit in recent years by bilateral tensions.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement that Islamabad has requested the early release and repatriation of 51 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 94 fishermen who had completed their sentence and whose nationality had been confirmed. “Furthermore, a request for grant of consular access to missing defence personnel of 1965 and 1971 wars, and special consular access to 56 civil prisoners has also been made,” it said.

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