- 179 fishermen are released after apparently straying into Pakistani waters
- The mistake is common by fishermen from the contentious neighboring countries
- Some of those released Saturday were imprisoned as long as a year
The Pakistani government has released from a Karachi, Pakistan, jail 179 Indian fishermen imprisoned for violating territorial waters, officials said Saturday.
The fishermen, some of whom had been imprisoned as long as a year, had sailed into Pakistani waters apparently by mistake. They will be transported from Karachi to Lahore, where they will be allowed to cross the border into India, said Aslam Nasir Zahid, a member of the Pakistani-India joint judicial committee, a nongovernmental organization working to investigate the imprisonment of civilians in India and Pakistan.
Nearly 300 fishermen remain in Pakistani jails, according to Zahid, and 480 boats are in Pakistani custody.
Fishermen from the contentious neighboring countries routinely cross into territorial waters and are routinely arrested and held in jail -- many times without trial.
Reacting to the release of the Indian fishermen by the government of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Shah, the head of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum told CNN affiliate GEO news that there are still 41 Pakistani fishermen being held in Indian jails and "these innocent men have been in Indian prisons for close to 15 years."