KARACHI: Senior Indian Journalist Jatin Desai on Monday urged the Indian and Pakistan governments to adopt non-arrest policy and easy mechanism for identification of fishermen on human grounds for the restoration of confidence between two neighbouring countries.
He expressed these views while addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club. Chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF Mohammad Ali Shah, and Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research PILER Karamat Ali were also present on this occasion.
He said during the last one month around 40 Indian boats have been confiscated by Maritime Security Agency of Pakistan and over 100 fishermen were arrested, while the total number of Indian fishermen in Malir Jail is now on 342, while, 297 Pakistanis, including 37 Pakistanis are in Indian jails.
Desai said process of verification of citizens is quite lengthy as according to the list submitted by Indian government there are 35 Pakistanis who have completed their sentences. They are waiting for verification of their documents/citizenship by Pakistani government, he added.
He asked the Pakistani government to complete these formalities so that those who have completed their sentence could come to Pakistan as early as possible.
Muhammad Ali Shah said there is a fear and frustration in fishermen and they are reluctant to go into deep sea for fishing. “The economy of the fishing villages and town is badly affected.”
He said families of arrested fishermen have already been suffering economic hardships due to confinement and confiscation of their source of livelihood
He asserted that a large number of fishing boats are lying on Karachi coast and in Saurashtra region of Gujarat state of India. He said most of these boats are damaged or their machineries are stolen.
He informed about 765 boats of Indian fishermen are lying along Karachi coast, whereas over 200 fishing boats of Pakistani fishermen are confiscated by Indian Coast Guards.
Karamat Ali suggested that both governments should create buffer zone of 50+50 nautical miles for fishermen as they can catch fish without fear of arrest.
He demanded of both countries to release all fishing boats and form high level working groups to monitor and prevent the arrest of fishermen.
He said efforts are underway to bring the fishermen communities of South Asian countries Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives at Colombo next month to find permanent solution to their problems.
The South Asian meeting of fishermen would discuss the detained fishermen issue and evolve a mutual strategy in this regard.