Islamabad: Forty-eight Indian fishermen, including 10 teenagers, were on Monday freed from a jail in the Pakistani port city of Karachi as a goodwill gesture and sent to the Wagah land border to be repatriated to India.

The release followed President Asif Ali Zardari's announcement on Saturday that all Indian fishermen in Pakistani jails, including those who are yet to complete their prison terms, would be freed.

Zardari made the announcement during External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's visit to Pakistan.

Senior police officials, representatives of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and civil society groups greeted the fishermen as they emerged from Malir Jail of Karachi this morning.

After being presented gifts, the fishermen were sent in buses to Lahore.

They will cross over to India via the Wagah border on Tuesday.

Eighteen-year-old Kishan Chand was among 10 teenagers released on Monday. He could not be released earlier because of illness, officials said.

Another 32 fishermen are still being held in Malir Jail and they would be freed soon, officials said.

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and officials called for the release of Pakistani fishermen currently in Indian jails as a reciprocal gesture.

"We expect our neighbours will show the same spirit and release Pakistani prisoners from their jails," said Ayaz Soomro, the Law Minister of Sindh province.

According to information provided by the government in Parliament last month, a total of 428 Pakistani nationals, including 85 fishermen, are currently in Indian jails.


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