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Family meets Sarabjit

Hopes are high that a request for clemency from the Indian Govt for death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh may be honoured by Pakistan, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Apr 25, 2008 03:30 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Hopes are high that a request for clemency from the Indian government for death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh may be honoured by Pakistan. But so far, no decision has been taken, say officials.

Sarabjit’s family members, who finally met him at the Kot Lakhpat jail on Thursday, said they wanted to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to make a personal appeal for his life. They also said they would appeal to Nawaz Sharif, head of the PML-N party.

The Pakistan government has said it is “actively considering” a request from India for clemency to Sarabjit. “We have received a request from the Indian government. A decision will be taken in due course,” said Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq when asked if Sarabjit, sentenced to death for alleged involvement in the 1990 blasts in Punjab province, would be hanged.

His comments follow the Pakistan President’s office statement that no mercy petition for the condemned Indian national was pending with it.

Ansar Burney, Pakistan’s former Human Rights Minister, has said he will send a mercy petition on behalf of the Indian government to President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. And, he said, he will make sure the plea is hand-delivered.

However, putting a dampner on things, the families of the victims of the Bhaati Gate bombing have said they will not allow Sarabjit to go free. They have threatened to hold protest rallies outside the Kot Lakhpat jail till he is executed.

Muhammad Saleem, son of Shaukat Jan who died in the bombing, said he would commit suicide if Sarabjit was freed. He and many others in Lahore have demanded that Sarabjit be executed as per court orders. So far, none of the victims’ families have pardoned him. Another relative, Muhammad Riaz, told the media “an example should be made of Sarabjit Singh, so other bombers also learn the lesson”.