On the occasion of the 64th World Human Rights Day, former Pakistan federal minister and human rights activist Dr Ansar Burney made a passionate appeal to all his countrymen to shed their hatred for Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner lodged in a Pakistan jail.
"My appeal on this day to people on both sides of the border is not to view prisoners like Sarabjit with hatred. People of this country too must show compassion towards Pakistani prisoners whose cases are similar to that of Sarabjit," said Burney while addressing a gathering at a function ogranised by the Akhil Bharatiya Human Rights Organisation (ABHRO) here on Monday.
Burney was honoured by the ABHRO with a memento and a shawl for his global efforts in getting prisoners who have served their sentences released from jails in various countries. Former governor RL Bhatia and former union minister Arif Mohammad Khan were also honoured on the occasion.
Burney, who has been working tirelessly for the release of Sarabjit and another condemned Indian prisoner, Kirpal Singh, however chose to make it clear that he had no sympathy for terrorists who have no respect for human life. He pointed out that having been in jail for 18 years, Kirpal Singh, like Sarabjit, had served his quantum of sentence and hanging the two now would serve no purpose.
"I am often referred to as an Indian agent and have often been threatened by hardliners. However, these threats will not have an impact on my efforts and very soon you will get the goods news of Sarabjit's release," he said.
Burney used the occasion to appeal to the governments of India and Pakistan to do away with the stringent visa laws and let the people of both nations meet each other freely. He said that despite Partition, both the nations were still one.
Bhatia, in his brief speech, hailed the efforts that Burney had put in for Sarabjit and other Indian prisoners in Pakistan jails.
ASI Ravinder Pal Singh remembered
On this important day, the organisers, including ABHRO president HS Tanwar, paid tributes to Punjab Police ASI Ravinder Pal Singh, who was killed last week while trying to protect the honour of his daughter from a bunch of Akali goons. Before the start of the function, a two-minute silence was observed in his memory.
Bhatia paid tributes to the ASI and said that his sacrifice was an outstanding act of courage. "It is the duty of everyone to protect our sisters and daughters, and the ASI sacrificed his life while upholding this duty," he said.