Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Saturday requested the repatriation of 33 Pakistanis in Indian prisons, The Times of India reported. He said the Pakistani nationals had served their sentences and expressed hope that Islamabad’s “goodwill gesture” in releasing Indian soldier Chandu Babulal Chohan would be acknowledged and appreciated by the Indian government.
The Pakistani envoy said some of the prisoners had been incarcerated for years. “It would be helpful if India allows repatriation of 33 Pakistan nationals who have already completed their respective sentences and whose nationality has been confirmed by the Pakistan high commission,” Basit told The Times of India.
Pakistan’s release of the Indian soldier follows its decision to free 220 Indian fishermen on December 25, 2016. The Indian government has been wary about these gestures considering Pakistan’s inaction in the Pathankot and Uri attack investigations. During his Raisina Hill address on January 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reiterated that bilateral negotiations with Pakistan could only begin if the government “walks away from terror”.
On September 29 last year, Chouhan, a 37 Rashtriya Rifles soldier, was captured by the Pakistani Army after he had inadvertently crossed the Line of Control. The development was reported only hours after the Indian Army’s surgical strikes on terror launchpads along the LoC. The Indian Army had then stated that Chohan was not a part of the surgical strikes.