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Pakistan moves to commute death term

world Updated: Jun 21, 2008 19:06 IST

In a move that could bring some reprieve to Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh, Pakistan government on Saturday announced plans to commute the death sentences of prisoners to life imprisonment.

Making the announcement, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Parliament that the Interior Ministry will be asked to "move a summary to President Pervez Musharraf to commute the sentence of those on death row to life imprisonment".

Under Pakistan Constitution, the President has powers to commute sentences.

The government's decision raised the prospects of the release of Sarabjit Singh, the 42-year-old Indian in jail for last 18 years for his alleged role in the 1990 bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan.

His hanging was put off indefinitely last month after the Indian government took up his case amid intense pressure from his family and human rights activists like Ansar Burney.

Burney, a former human rights minister in the Pakistan interim government, said it was a "great decision" which will help Sarabjit and ensure release of all those who have completed their life sentences.

"I am going to inform Sarabjit Singh's family.... For a long time the Indian government was also requesting the Pakistan government.... It is a great, great achievement," he said.