Vadodara: Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani has urged Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to expedite visa processing to the eight-member delegation from Gujarat, which will be visiting the neighbouring country to complete the modalities to bring back 57 seized boats anchored at a port in Karachi.

In a letter to Sharif yesterday, Nathwani said it was imperative to bring these seized fishing boats back on humanitarian grounds as it served as a means of livelihood to hundreds of fishermen and their families in the state.

“These 8-member team consisting leaders of fishermen community and an official of the Fisheries Department of the Gujarat government have been camping in Delhi for last one week and awaiting visa from the Pakistani High Commission office in the capital,” he said.

The members have already submitted their visa application forms and awaiting issuance, Nathwani informed.

The fishermen delegation decided to visit Pakistan after the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India conveyed the decision of Pakistan government to Gujarat on releasing these seized boats and asking to claim them before March 31, Nathwani said.

The visit is needed for verifying and checking the sea worthiness of the seized boats as 53 of them required minor repairs and remaining major repairs, before they could be physically taken over by us, said P C Malli, Additional Director of the Fisheries department of Gujarat.

The decision to release the boats came after an announcement by Sharif on eve of his visit to Delhi in May 2014 for attending the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The move also comes days after Pakistan freed 172 Indian fishermen last week as a goodwill gesture and Prime Ministers of both the countries spoke to each other.

Indian fishermen and boats are often apprehended by the Pakistan Marine Security Agency (PMSA) for allegedly violating Pakistan territorial waters.

PTI

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Rajya Sabha MP seeks early visa from Pakistan to team for the release of 57 Indian boats