Pakistan frees 45 Indian fishermen as goodwill gesture

KARACHI (AFP) - Pakistan released 45 Indian fishermen on Friday, a prison official said, following an order from the prime minister as a goodwill gesture.

The fishermen boarded a bus to the eastern city of Lahore from where they will cross into India through the Wagha border.

"We have released 45 Indian fishermen today on the orders from the higher authorities," Mr Sunil Shah, a senior jail official at the Landhi District Jail, told AFP.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso last Friday ordered the release of the fishermen as a gesture of goodwill and expressed hope that the Indian authorities would reciprocate.

The marine security forces of Pakistan and India frequently arrest each others' fishermen for straying into their disputed territorial waters in the Arabian Sea.

With the release of this batch, more than 400 Indian fishermen remain in prison in Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.