India and Pakistan on Monday exchanged the lists of nuclear installations and prisoners in each other’s custody even as New Delhi reiterated its demand for consular access to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been awarded death sentence by a military court in the neighbouring country.
The lists were exchanged by the two sides through diplomatic channels simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad.
The bilateral agreement on exchange of lists on nuclear installations that prohibits the two countries from attacking each other’s nuke facilities was signed on 31 December 1988, and came into force on 27 January 1991. This is the 27th consecutive exchange of such lists between the two countries, the first one having taken place on 1 January 1992.
The External Affairs Ministry also announced the exchange of lists of nationals (including civil prisoners and fishermen) of each country lodged in the jails of the other nation in keeping with the provisions of the 2008 agreement on consular access.
India said it remained committed to addressing humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country. Lists of 250 civilian prisoners and 94 fishermen were handed over to Pakistan. Further, lists of 54 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 4 fishermen who have completed their sentence and whose nationality confirmation was awaited from Pakistan were also handed over and Islamabad was asked to expedite confirmation of their nationality. A juvenile Hasnain, whose nationality was verified by Pakistan, was being repatriated on Monday, New Delhi said.
Pakistan also shared a list of 58 civilian prisoners and 399 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or believed to be Indians. The government has repeatedly emphasised the need for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats.
“We also await consular access to those Indian nationals in Pakistan’s custody for whom it has so far not been provided, including Kulbhushan Jadhav and Hamid Nehal Ansari,’’ the MEA added. Pakistan also used the occasion to inform the India side of its decision to release 146 fishermen on 8 January.
The lists were exchanged amid heightened tensions between the two countries over a host of issues, including the treatment meted out to the family members of Kulbhushan Jadhav when they visited Islamabad to meet him. Apart from this, the 31 December terror attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, has made matters worse.
Meanwhile, reports in the Pakistani media which have not been confirmed by the Indian side so far said National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan held a “secret” meeting in Thailand.