NEW DELHI:In what is seen as an attempt to de-escalate rising tensions along the border, Pakistan on Wednesday approved three ‘humanitarian’ proposals put forward by India and added two more to the list.
A Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement said, “The Foreign Minister, after consulting with all the stakeholders, has approved the following humanitarian proposals, which had been received from the Indian side, regarding civilian prisoners incarcerated in both the countries: Exchange of three categories of prisoners, women, mentally challenged or with special needs, and those above 70 years of age; revival of the Judicial Committee mechanism and facilitating the visit of medical experts (from both sides) to meet and examine the mentally challenged prisoners for their repatriation.
“Additionally, the Foreign Minister has also extended two more humanitarian proposals which are given below, i.e exchange of prisoners above 60 years of age and exchange of child prisoners, below 18 years of age.”In response, a Indian Ministry of External Affairs statement said, “External Affairs Minister of India had, in October 2017, suggested to the High Commissioner of Pakistan that the two sides could progress on humanitarian issues related to elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners… Further, a visit of a team of medical experts would be organised to meet the mentally unsound prisoners so as to facilitate the repatriation of such prisoners.
It has also been agreed to resume the visits of the Joint Judicial Committee, which looks into the issues of fishermen and prisoners in each other’s custody. The officials on both sides would be working on the modalities to implement the understanding reached on these humanitarian issues.”“While this is a positive sign, what we really need is to stop this constant cross-border shelling, which has the potential to escalate into a wider conflict. The fact remains that mostly such shelling is conducted by Pakistan to facilitate terrorist infiltration into Kashmir. Until GHQ in Rawalpindi is convinced that peace can only be discussed once Pakistan turns off the terror tap, these proposals, while good, will have very limited value and impact,” a senior Indian official said.