For India, release of Sarabjit Singh was part of the high-level bilateral agenda from April 18, 2005 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took up the issue with former president Pervez Musharraf in their meeting in New Delhi.
Sarabjit Singh has remained high in the bilateral agenda since then with the matter being taken up at every top level political and diplomatic meeting between the countries.
But the souring of bilateral ties ensured even showing humanitarian concern was too much to desire.
Sarabjit was in Pakistani jail since 1991 and he was awarded death penalty after he was found guilty in a terror case.
India termed it a case of mistaken identity and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.
Following then president Pervez Musharraf’s rejection of his mercy plea, Sarabjit was to be hanged on April 1, 2008. But the hanging was put on hold.
Sarabjit’s arduous journey reached a decisive point in April 2013 after he was attacked by fellow death row convicts in Kot Lakhpat jail. As he battled for life in hospital there was a diplomatic tussle between India and Pakistan over
“giving consular access constantly.”
The demand of sending him to either India or to a third country for treatment also fell on deaf ears.