A day after its volte-face on the release of Sarabjit Singh, Pakistan on Wednesday went into a damage control mode, saying there was no move to free the Indian prisoner and denied that there was any pressure from army on the issue.
The matter had not even been discussed within the civilian government, interior minister Rehman Malik said when asked at a news conference whether authorities had been pressured by the army to drop any plan to free Sarabjit.
"We have not even pardoned him (Sarabjit) as yet... Don't involve the army in everything. The army's role is very important and will remain so. The army never interfered. He was never freed," Malik said.
He further said the government is yet to take any step to pardon Sarabjit, 49, who was convicted and sentenced to death for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks that killed 14 people in Punjab in 1990.
Hours after reports emerged on Tuesday that Pakistan was to free Sarabjit Singh, presidential spokesman Faratullah Babar said it was not Sarabjit but another Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh, who has been jailed for three decades.
Malik said authorities were examining Sarabjit's case. "If we are satisfied, then we will send it to the law division to examine," he said.
Media reports had said that the Pakistan government had made a U-turn on Sarabjit's release following pressure from fundamentalist groups like JuD and Jamaat-e-Islami.