Pakistani authorities on Wednesday postponed the hanging of Sarabjit Singh, which was scheduled for April 1 by “at least one month.”
An official who announced the decision hinted that President Musharraf might review the case. Indian officials have contacted the Pakistani government for clemency and review of the death sentence imposed on the Indian national, who has been in Pakistani custody for the past 17 years.
In New Delhi, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee informed the Lok Sabha about the postponement of Sarabjit’s hanging and assured MPs that the government would continue in its efforts to save him. In a brief statement, Mukherjee said Musharraf has stayed Sarabjit’s execution till April 30.
Agency reports said that while seeking clemency, India reportedly maintained that the impression that Sarabjit is being executed in retaliation for the death of a Pakistani in Indian custody. Such a gesture will “impinge on the positive atmosphere” between the two countries, India had said.
Sarabjit’s family let out a collective sigh of relief when news came in of the postponement of the hanging. “I am hopeful that my papa will come back soon,” said his daughter Swapandeep.
Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur, who had submitted a clemency petition at the Pakistan High Commission on Tuesday, said the External Affairs Ministry had told her that she would be issued a visa to visit her brother, now languishing in a jai in Lahore.
(With inputs from Saroj Nagi in New Delhi)