Musharraf stays Sarabjit's execution

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Islamabad, Mar 19 (UNI) Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has stayed execution of Sarabjit Singh till April 30 a day after India sought clemency for the condemned prisoner on humanitarian grounds.

A notification staying the execution was issued today, officials told UNI, adding that the new date will be fixed on the expiry of extension period on April 30, 2008.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman had confirmed that the Indian government had sought clemency for Sarabjit Singh, who had been sentenced to death in 1991 for carrying out multiple bomb explosions in Pakistan's Punjab province, in which 14 people were killed.

Pakistani officials say Singh is a terrorist, who operated in Pakistan with different names including that of Manjeet Singh.

However, his family members claim that he is innocent and inadvertently crossed the border.

President Pervez Musharraf rejected Singh's mercy petition early this month followed by issuance of his death warrants. His hanging had been fixed for April 1.

The Indian High Commission in Pakistan also expressed dismay over news reports regarding Sarabjit's hanging.

''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, a Pakistani under-trial in India,'' a statement by Indian High Commission issued yesterday said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 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.

UNI XC YA AS1838

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