Residents of Sarabjit Singh's native village Bhikhiwind protesting against Pakistan's U-turn on releasing Sarabjit, at Bhikhiwind 40 km from Amritsar on Wednesday. (Munish Byala/HT photo)
Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik told an Indian news channel today that the government will try and release prisoner Sarabjit Singh as soon as possible. Death row convict Sarabjit has been languishing in Pakistani jail for the past two decades.
"There are legal complications, but the government is working on his release. If it was in my hands, I would send Sarabjit Singh home very soon," Malik told NDTV on Saturday.
"I have discussed Sarabjit Singh with the President and will try and give good news soon," Malik added.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday assured India that he will consider the case of the Indian prisoner who has been on death row in the country for over 20 years.
Zardari asked officials to take note of the details of Sarabjit's case, official sources said.
Sarabjit, now 49, was convicted and sentenced to death for alleged involvement in a string of bombings in Punjab in 1990 that killed 14 people.
He has maintained that his case was one of mistaken identity.
Sarabjit recently alleged that the jail authorities in Lahore were serving him "unhygienic" food, which was "difficult to eat", and he was being mistreated.
Earlier in the day, interior minister Rehman Malik said that Pakistan had given India special consular access to Sarabjit, who is lodged in a Lahore jail, following his complaints of ill treatment.
The special consular access was given on Wednesday, he said, adding that Sarabjit would be treated properly.
In May this year, Sarabjit sent a fresh clemency appeal to President Zardari, a fifth one seeking a pardon.
On the issue of pardon for the Indian national, Malik said the matter would be decided according to the law.
Sarabjit is currently being held at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore and has been on death row for over 20 years.
Following his complaints, the High Commission of India had approached Pakistan's Foreign Ministry seeking special consular access to Sarabhjit.
During the meeting between Zardari and Krishna, the two leaders also discussed other bilateral issues and the progress made so far, the sources said.