Zardari commutes Indian prisoner Sarabjit's
President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday commuted to life the death
sentence of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who was convicted more
than two decades ago for terrorism, a media report said.
The law ministry has now asked the interior ministry to take the
did a volte-face Tuesday night and said that instead of releasing
Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who was sentenced to death for
spying, another Indian named Surjeet Singh, in Pakistani custody
for three decades, would be released.
"I think there is some confusion. First, it is not a case of
pardon. More importantly, it is not Sarabjit. It is Surjeet Singh,
son of Sucha Singh. His death sentence was commuted in 1989 by
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the advice of then prime minister
Benazir Bhutto," presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar was
quoted as saying by Geo News.
Law Minister Farooq Naek Tuesday told the interior ministry that
Surjeet Singh had completed his life term in jail and should be
released and sent back to India, Babar said.
Keeping him in jail any longer will be illegal confinement, he
It would be entirely "out of context" to mention President Asif
Ali Zardari in the matter, Babar said.
Surjeet Singh is reportedly being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail in
Lahore. He has been in a Pakistani prison for over 30 years, after
being arrested near the border on charges of spying during the
regime of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.
Media reports Tuesday said Zardari had converted Sarabjit Singh's
death sentence to life imprisonment and ordered authorities to
release him if he had completed his prison term.
Sarabjit Singh's family claim he had crossed into Pakistan
inadvertently in August 1990 in an inebriated state and was
But Pakistani police say Sarabjit Singh, who is known as Manjit
Singh there, was involved in acts of terrorism. A resident of
Bhikhiwind township along the border, Sarabjit has been
languishing in Pakistani jails since then.
He was convicted of staging four bombings in Lahore and Multan in
1990 that killed at least 14 people.