Demand to release detained fishers


KARACHI: The supporting organizations of fishermen of both India and Pakistan have reminded both county’s Prime Ministers to fulfil their commitments made in a joint statement on sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit held in Ufa, Russia on July 10, 2015, regarding release of the fishermen in each other’s custody along with boats within a period of fifteen days.

In a meeting, held in Karachi to discuss issues of detained fishermen, the Chairman of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) Mohammad Ali Shah, a senior journalist from Mumbai Jatin Desai, Shujauddin Qureshi of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Mustafa Gurgez of PFF said that “The spirit shown in Uffa was much appreciated by people of both the countries, but since then the progress towards peace especially release of fishermen is slowed down”.

They pointed out that still hundreds of fishermen are languishing in jails of both countries. Estimated 120 Pakistani fishermen are still in Indian jails and over 300 Indian fishermen are lying in Pakistani jails.

Jatin Desai informed the meeting that the Indian government provides Rs. 150 per day to each family of the arrested fishermen as a financial support. However, PFF Chairman Mohammad Ali Shah said no such facility is available to Pakistani fishermen’s families.

They demanded Pakistan government to provide a financial support to the families of all Pakistani fishermen languishing in Indian jails, equal to minimum wages per month.

They said that presently, the families of such detained fishermen are suffering a lot due to absence of bread-earning members. Detaining fishermen’s boats and launches also creates financial crisis for such families.

They pointed out that at the time of release of fishermen the government used to release their boats from Karachi coast, but now only fishermen are released and allowed to cross borders from Wagah in Lahore.

They also demanded that special licenses or identity cards may be issued to such fishermen and in case of any violation some fines may be imposed.

The meeting also decided to hold a South Asia level joint conference in 2016, preferably on the occasion of next SAARC Summit scheduled to be held in November next year in Islamabad to discuss the fishermen’s issues in the region.