Pakistan frees 315 Indian fishermen

Pakistan on Wednesday released 315 Indian fishermen, including 14 teenagers, who were held in prison for violating territorial waters, officials said.

The release, described as a 'goodwill gesture', is part of an understanding between the nuclear-armed rivals to release citizens who mistakenly stray into each other's territorial waters.

It came one day after India said a planned meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers had been postponed. Pakistan has been in political upheaval since the supreme court dismissed the prime minister last week.

"We have released 315 Indian fishermen from our jail on the instructions of the government," Nazeer Husain Shah, superintendent of the Malir district prison in Karachi told agencies.

"Those released include 14 teenage boys," he said.

Haider Ali Haider, who runs charity Saiban designed to help imprisoned fishermen, said six buses had taken the Indians to the eastern city of Lahore, from where they would cross the Wagah border.

Officials say at least 150 Indian fishermen are still in Pakistani jails and 250 Pakistanis in Indian prisons.

Sharjeel Memon, the information minister for southern province Sindh on the Arabian Sea, said the releases were 'a goodwill gesture'.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is divided by a heavily militarised Line of Control and which both countries claim in full.

Last year they resumed their tentative peace process, which collapsed after Islamist gunmen from Pakistan killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008.

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