Islamabad, March 1 (IANS) Pakistan and India must work to reduce human misery, said a leading Pakistani daily which observed that the ties between the two countries are “susceptible to the mood swings of both establishments”.
An editorial “Fishermen’s plight” in the Dawn on Tuesday said India, Pakistan relationship is “notoriously unpredictable and susceptible to the mood swings of both establishments”.
“In this world of high politics and deft diplomacy, the plight of fishermen of one state caught in the other country’s waters is particularly miserable, and hardly figures on officialdom’s list of priorities,” it said.
Twenty Indian fishermen were arrested over the weekend by the Maritime Security Agency for fishing in Pakistani waters.
Their vessels have also been seized. On February 20, 88 Indians had similarly been detained.
The Fishermen’s Cooperative Society said that 150 Indian fishermen are currently in Pakistani jails, while 50 Pakistanis are incarcerated in India.
The daily said: “While other issues that aggravate the Indo-Pakistan relationship may be more difficult to resolve, the problem of fishermen straying into the other country’s waters can be addressed if both states display a spirit of humanity and compassion.”
“The maritime frontiers are obviously not clearly marked, and it is easy to stray into foreign waters. If fishermen from one country do inadvertently cross over into the other’s territorial waters, they should simply be warned and allowed to head back, instead of being rounded up and dumped in jail,” it added.
The editorial called for “a bilateral protocol to immediately deal with such situations whenever they arise. Instead, whenever required, the fishermen are released by the respective administrations as a sign of ‘goodwill’.”
It said that the fishermen usually belong to very humble backgrounds, and often their boats – which are also confiscated – are hardly seaworthy by the time they are released.
“As there is currently some progress on the bilateral front, the issue of fishermen should also be added to the agenda for discussion.
“Islamabad and New Delhi must both work to reduce human misery and the crossing of maritime frontiers by fishermen should be treated as a mistake, not a crime, and handled accordingly.”