World Bulletin / News Desk
India handed over 20 Pakistani prisoners at the two countries' shared border on Thursday, officials said.
Among the prisoners handed over at the Wagha crossing, near Pakistan's northeastern city of Lahore, were 17 fishermen who had been languishing in Indian jails for violating its waters. The remaining three were citizens accidentally crossed into Indian territory.
The release of Pakistani prisoners came on the same day that Pakistan arrested 38 Indian fishermen.
Pakistan and India frequently arrest each other’s fishermen for violating their seawaters because of a poorly-defined maritime border in the Arabian Sea. Most fishing boats used by the fishermen lack the technology to give the crew precise coordinates.
The countries have used exchanges of prisoners to ease their strained relations in the past; Pakistan released 151 Indian fishermen on the eve of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony in May 2014 and then another 38 in November.
According to the Pakistan Fishermen Folk Forum, a non-governmental organization working for the welfare of fishermen, some 380 Pakistanis and 502 Indians, mostly fishermen, have been imprisoned by the two countries.
Strained diplomatic ties between the two South Asian neighbors compound the problem, with many fishermen remaining imprisoned even after their sentences are completed.