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Pakistan pardons Indian death row prisoner

President Pervez Musharraf approves mercy petition of Kashmir Singh, who spent 35 years on a death row in Lahore prison.

world Updated: Feb 28, 2008 22:33 IST

Indian prisoner Kashmir Singh, who spent 35 years on a death row in Lahore jail, will be released immediately as President Pervez Musharraf has approved his mercy petition, Pakistan government said on Thursday.

Caretaker Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney, who found Singh during a visit to Lahore's Central Jail, told reporters that Musharraf had accepted the Indian's mercy petition on humanitarian grounds and ordered his immediate release.

Singh, who was arrested in Rawalpindi on espionage charges in 1973, was sentenced to death by an army court. He has become a mental wreck after long years of solitary confinement. After Burney's intervention, Singh was taken to hospital for treatment.

The approval of the mercy petition filed on Singh's behalf by Pakistan's human rights ministry came a day after Burney, one of the country's leading rights activists, announced that the prisoner's family had been traced in Hoshiarpur in the Indian Punjab.

Syed Fahad Burney, a kin of the minister and acting chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust, told Dawn News that Singh's family is not expected to visit him in Pakistan since it is hoped that he "might return home soon".

Burney, who played a pivotal role in Singh's release, said he would try to secure the release of any other Indian prisoner that he might come across in Pakistani jails.

"If we find any other Indian or foreign prisoners in Pakistani jails, I will get them out," he said.