A massive three-nation exchange of soldiers, civil servants and civilians stranded on the Indian subcontinent began on Wednesday (19 September).
A massive three-nation exchange of soldiers, civil servants and civilians stranded on the Indian subcontinent began on Wednesday (19 September). More than 300,000 people hope their enforced exile in alien countries will end after 20-months of being stranded or imprisoned since the December, 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.
The first batch of 158 Bengalis left Lahore for Bangla Desh on wednesday by a special flight. They included 98 adults, and 70 children; fifteen of them infants. The plane used was a Boeing 727 chartered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. A second U.N. plane joined the airlift between Lahore and Dacca, Bangla Desh on Thursday (20 September). It was anticipated that between them the aircraft could ferry up to 1,200 people a day.
Earlier on Wednesday, 135 Pakistanis arrived in Lahore from Bangla Desh. These first returnees were garlanded, kissed and hugged by relatives and officials.
The exchange is part of the New Delhi Agreement which was hammered out in August between India and Pakistan. The stranded People are 93,000 Pakistani soldiers and civilian prisoners-of-war held in camps in India since the Indo-Pakistan war, which brought about the creation of Bangla Desh; 160,000 Bengalis stranded in Pakistan; and Biharis or non-Bengalis in Bangla Desh who wish to live in Pakistan.