The first 842 Pakistani prisoners of war were repatriated on Friday (28 September 1973) at the border post of Wagah.
The first 842 Pakistani prisoners of war were repatriated on Friday (28 September 1973) at the border post of Wagah. They are the vanguard of 93,000 detainees whom India is releasing after 21 months in captivity, following the war which split pakistan and created bangladesh.
At the same time, United Nations officials were working on plans to repatriate to Bangladesh 140,000 Bengalis stranded in Pakistan and 60,000 non-Benegalis from Dacca to Pakistan. Altogether, some 300,000 people will be returning to their homes within the next few months.
A huge welcome was laid on for the POW's at Wagah, but they did not seem to relax until they reached a reception centre in Lahore 15 miles (24 km) away. There, some accused Indian guards of firing on civilian prisoners at Allahabad in August, and killing two military detainees. Otherwise, conditions in the camps were described as satisfactory.
The repatriation is being carried out under the terms of an agreement signed last month, for a three-way exchange.
SYNOPSIS: The first eight hundred and forty-two Pakistani prisoners of war were repatriate last Friday at the border post of Wagah. They formed the vanguard for ninety-three thousand detainees currently being released by India and sent home. They had spent twenty-one months in detention camps, sing the end of the 1971 war, which split Pakistan and created Bangladesh. But though the sides to the conflict agreed on the exchange, they failed to see eye to eye on the timing, and the returnees had to wait half an hour before they could accept the welcome home.
There were final official matters to be settled on the frontier. A table was set directly across the dividing line between India and pakistan and the prisoners submitted to checks of their documents by civil servants of both nations. Only then were they allowed to cross back to their own country.
First to welcome the homecomers was the Governor of the West Punjab, Mustafa Khart Second was an Army band.
But despite the entertainment, the return did not appear to relax and smile until to reached Lahore, a full fifteen miles inst their country. There, they would be told by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that the pain and anguish were over.
Altogether, three hundred thousand person are involved in this three-way exchange on population between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, agreed upon last month. The largest group are the hundred and forty thousand Bengalis left stranded in pakistan when war broke out.
However, the entire migration may take ever longer than the several months planned for owing to a shortage of transport vehicles
For the record, the pioneer group of repatriates included a hundred and seventy three women and three hundred and fifty-eight children. The youngest of them is two weeks-old Muna, who was conceived and born in a detention camp.