Pakistan ignores all pleas, to hang Sarabjit

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Islamabad, Mar 18: Ignoring all pleas for clemency on humanitarian grounds, Pakistan today announced that Sarabjit Singh, sentenced to death for involvement in four bomb blasts in the country in 1990, would be hanged on April 1.

''He would be hanged on the exact date (April 1) and there would be no delay in his hanging,'' Interior Ministry Spokesman Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema told a weekly media briefing. Sarabjit, in Pakistan custody for last 17 years, had been convicted of involvement in bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed about 14 people. In March 2006, the Supreme Court of Pakistan rejected Sarabjit's plea for clemency. President Pervez Musharraf on March 3 this year rejected the mercy petition of Sarabjit, whose actual name according to Pakistan is Manjit Singh. The Indian High Commission here expressed dismay over Islamabad's statement that Sarabjit would be hanged on April 1.

''New Delhi has noted that the view in the media in Pakistan is that this sudden decision is in retaliation for the unfortunate death of Khalid Mehmood, who was a Pakistani under-trial prisoner in India,'' a statement by Indian High Commission said.

It added that such impressions will impinge on the positive atmosphere currently existing between India and Pakistan.

''Today, Sarabjit Singh's sister, Dalbir Kaur has sent a written appeal for clemency directly to His Excellency President Musharraf.

She has also requested the President for permission to visit Pakistan to meet with Sarabjit Singh in jail,'' the statement said.

''The two governments have been working on several initiatives designed to lead to an improvement of the situation for prisoners of either country,'' the statement said.

These initiatives include a new Agreement on Consular Access and setting up of a Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners.

The Committee met recently in New Delhi and the Indian judges are due to visit Pakistan in early April.

''The Government of India holds high hopes from such new institutional arrangements, as well as from the dialogue process with Pakistan, which it hopes very much that it can quickly resume,'' said the statement.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that India has taken up the issue of Sarabjit Singh with Pakistan at the highest levels and New Delhi was making all possible efforts to seek a reprieve for the condemned prisoner.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha appealed to Pakistan from the floor of the House, seeking ''clemency on humanitarian grounds'' for the Indian national.


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