ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India on Saturday exchanged the lists of their prisoners in each other’s custody and nuclear sites as part of the various agreements in place between the two countries.
According to a Foreign Office (FO) statement, Pakistan shared a list of 628 Indian prisoners with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad in accordance with the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access.
About 51 prisoners on the list are civilians, while 577 are fishermen.
“The Indian government also simultaneously shared the list of 355 Pakistani prisoners in India including 282 civilians and 73 fishermen with the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi,” the FO statement said.
According to the 2008 agreement, India and Pakistan are required to share a list of prisoners both countries are holding across the border twice a year on January 1 and July 1.
Similarly, the list of nuclear facilities and installations was handed over to the Indian High Commission by the FO while the Indian Ministry of External Affairs handed over a similar list to an officer of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
The annual exchange, which has been conducted on the first day of every year since 1992, began after a December 1988 pact between the two rival states termed the ‘Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India’.
Under the agreement, both parties “should inform each other of their nuclear installations and facilities within the definition of the agreement on Jan 1 of each calendar year”. The FO said the practice has been followed consecutively since Jan 1, 1992.
The Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between India and Pakistan was signed on Dec. 31, 1988 and entered into force on Jan. 27, 1992.
The agreement was drafted after a major military exercise, Brasstacks was carried out by the Indian Army in Rajasthan in 1986-87, raising fears of a possible Indian attack on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities.
It provides, inter alia, that the two nuclear-armed archrivals must inform each other about their atomic installations and on the first of January of every calendar year.
“The list of nuclear installations and facilities in Pakistan was officially handed over to a representative of the Indian High Commission at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, at 1030 hours (PST),” the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement.
At the same time the Indian government submitted its list of nuclear installations and facilities to a representative of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
The exchange of information comes despite ongoing tensions between the countries, which have heightened since August 2019, when New Delhi scrapped special autonomous status of the part of Kashmiri territory under its administration.
On Aug. 5, 2019, New Delhi abrogated Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution that granted Kashmir autonomy. It also divided the state into two federally administered units — Union Territory of Ladakh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The move was followed by Pakistan’s decision to downgrade its diplomatic relations with India and expelled the Indian high commissioner.