KARACHI - The Pakistani and Indian civil society have announced to launch a campaign to release the detained fishermen of India and Pakistan. Addressing the Press conference at Karachi Press Club on Sunday, representatives of both the counties said that millions of fishermen of both India and Pakistan had been victimised by the authorities of both the countries due to their prolong and unsettled disputes. The Press conference was addressed by Karamat Ali of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Mohamad Ali Shah of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Syed Iqbal Haider of Human Rights Council of Pakistan (HRCP), Kavita Srivastave of Peoples Union of India, Dr Sandeep Pandey, a human rights activist in India, Jatin Desai, an activist of fishermen rights in India, and others. On behalf of South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), they have decided to take up the issue of detained fishermen by launching a regional-level campaign. The fishermen of both the countries are frequently attacked, arrested and even killed by naval forces of both the countries and their fishing boats are confiscated, they added. They said that the poor fishermen were put in prisons for years in the charges of crossing the water zones of their respective countries, and they were also not produced in any court of law for years. They further said that delay in Sir Creek border issue were creating miseries for fishermen, since there was no visible demarcation in the sea water between India and Pakistan. Therefore, the fishermen of both the countries easily stray into the water zones of each others country due to severe weather. Presently there are 105 Pakistani fishermen detained in India while about 550 Indian fishermen are behind the bars in Pakistani jails. In the past two decades about 18 Pakistani fishermen have been died in Indian jails and about 8 Indians suffered the same fate in Pakistan, they added. Besides arresting fishermen, security agencies of India and Pakistan also seize trawlers and fishing boats of the fishermen and those boats were not returned even when the fishermen were released which causes enormous economic loss to the fishing communities particularly of Gujarat in India and Sindh in Pakistan. The recent death of Bhambania Laka, an Indian fisherman caught by the Maritime Security Agency (MSA) of Pakistan in March 2009, did create some temporary hue and cry but that poor fishermans death ruined his entire family. Recently 24 Pakistani fishermen of the Kharochan village were caught in India and their families have been devastated and facing starvation due to the arrest of their bread winners. We demand both the countries to immediately release all the detained fishermen of both the countries and return all their seized boats. A reasonable compensation should also be paid to them. There is a need of finding out a permanent solution to this problem. Since there are no visible boundaries on waters and no sign posts are installed to warn the fishermen about the sea borders, arresting of fishermen on accusations of crossing waters is injustice and violation of international human rights, they said. As per current practices, a Pakistani fisherman in India, even if released by the Indian authorities, can only return when his name is confirmed by the Pakistani authorities.