India and Pakistan on March 7, 2018 agreed on a proposal to release elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners held in each other's jails on humanitarian grounds.
The proposal, which was extended by India, was approved by Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif after consultation with all the concerned stakeholders.
• The proposal requests the release imprisoned citizens that fall into three categories:
- Female prisoners
- Prisoners over 70 years of age
- Mentally challenged or persons with special needs
• The Pakistani Foreign Minister also approved the revival of the mechanism of India-Pakistan Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners, which has been inactive since October 2013.
• Under the mechanism, both the nations will allow medical experts from the other country to travel to their own to examine the mentally challenged prisoners in order to ascertain their eligibility for release.
According to Pakistan's Foreign Office, Khawaja Asif additionally proposed two more suggestions to India, both aimed at prisoner’s welfare, including the exchange of prisoners older than 60 years and exchange of child prisoners younger than 18 years.
The initiative is expected to encourage both the nations to embark on the road to a comprehensive dialogue and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the tensions along the Line of Control.
In October 2017, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had suggested to the then newly appointed Pakistan High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood that the two sides could progress on humanitarian issues related to elderly, women, children and mentally unsound prisoners.