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Release all fishermen and their boats - An appeal to India and Pakistan

4 October 2011

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October 3, 2011

PRESS STATEMENT:

We, the undersigned, express our deep concern regarding the continuous arrests of Indian and Pakistani fishermen and confiscation of their boats by each country of the other. The poor, innocent fishermen go to sea to catch fish and in the deep sea it becomes virtually impossible for them to recognise where their countries waters end and other’s start.

The fishing season has begun couple of days ago and boats in a big number go to the mid-sea to catch and earn some money. Both the governments need to recognise the fact that these traditional fishermen go to the mid-sea for their livelihood. Arresting them and confiscating their boats means depriving their families from the livelihood, and causing them extreme distress.

In last few days Pakistan’s Marine Security Agency (MSA) has arrested around 100 Indian fishermen and confiscated 10 boats. More than 520 Indian boats are lying in Pakistan and around 230 Pakistani boats are in India. We appeal to both the governments to release all the fishermen and release their boats as a gesture of good will. The issue of fishermen needs to be seen from the humanitarian, not security angle.

The recent peace process resumed since March is moving in a positive direction. The recent India visit and meeting of Makhdoom Fahim, Commerce minister of Pakistan, with his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma has agreed on targeting bilateral trade to double in next three years i.e. reaching $ 6 billion. In such a positive atmosphere if both the government resolve the issues confronting the fishing community then the peace process will get tremendous boost. Besides lakhs of fishermen and their families will be eternally grateful.

Signed by:

INDIA
- Kuldip Nayar, Delhi
- Mahesh Bhatt, Mumbai
- Dr B L Mungekar, Mumbai
- Ramaswamy Iyer, Delhi
- Jatin Desai, Mumbai
- Kamla Bhasin, Delhi
- Seema Mustafa, Delhi
- Meena Menon, Mumbai
- Shivam Vij, Delhi
- Varsha Berry, Mumbai
- Suhasini Mulay, Mumbai
- Mazher Hussain, Hyderabad
- Bharat Mody, Porbandar
- Haris Kidwai, Delhi
- Manisha Gupte, Pune
- Manoranjan Mohanty, Delhi

PAKISTAN
- Karamat Ali, Karachi
- Nasir Aslam Zahid, Karachi
- Mohammad Ali Shah, Karachi
- I A Rehman, Lahore
- Beena Sarwar, Karachi
- S Tahseen, Lahore