Sarabjit may soon be free: Burney
Pakistan’s interior ministry has completed a draft summary to be moved to President Zardari for commutation of the death sentences of some 7,000 prisoners to life terms including that of Indian convict Sarabjit Singh, reports Zia Haq.delhi Updated: Oct 13, 2008 00:51 IST
Pakistan’s interior ministry has completed a draft summary to be moved to President Asif Ali Zardari for commutation of the death sentences of some 7,000 prisoners to life terms — including that of Indian convict Sarabjit Singh — Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney has said, quoting Law Minister Farooq Hamid Naek.
Burney said Naek had stated on October 6 after meeting Sarabjit in Lahore’s Kotlakhpat Jail that the draft summary was ready for presidential consideration.
Burney — an elected expert of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee — who has resolutely pushed Sarabjit’s mercy plea, however, alleged that Islamic fundamentalists and Musharraf-appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice A.H. Dogar were creating hurdles in carrying out this landmark step.
“Justice Dogar has taken suo moto action in declaring that such a move to commute death sentences was un-Islamic. But I have every hope that Zardari will over-rule Dogar’s stand on the issue because he has the powers (to do so),” Burney told HT from Karachi.
Burney has asked President Zardari to stall all current executions because the commutation proposal was in an advanced stage.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani had declared the “mass commutation” proposal in the National Assembly on June 21 as a tribute to assassinated former PM Benazir Bhutto.
Zardari appears likely to move ahead with the proposal because the commutation is in memory of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, killed in a blast last year, and also because he is politically opposed to Chief Justice Dogar, who was appointed by former president Pervez Musharraf.
A section of the country’s fundamentalists, along with Chief Justice Dogar, citing Islamic laws, said that if an offender had been sentenced to death for murder, the punishment should not be commuted without consent of heirs of the victim.