India to release more than 100 Pak prisoners

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New Delhi, Apr 9: Pakistan's human rights activist Ansar Burney has said that New Delhi is ready to release more than 100 Pakistani prisoners lodged in Indian jails.

"I want to convey through media the Indian Government's decision to release large number of Pakistani prisoners. I am grateful to Indian Government in general and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in particular. I will wait and see ifakistan responds in a befitting manner," Burney said after holding talks with Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon here on Tuesday. The two countries frequently arrest each other's fishermen for intruding into their waters despite a thaw in relations since they launched the peace process in 2004.

Many of those arrested have been in prison for years, often without a trial. Last year, both countries agreed to release all arrested fishermen and speed up the release of other civilian prisoners.

Burney has been actively pursuing the case of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh who is facing death sentence in Pakistan's prison.

"We have not discussed Sarabjit in particular because Sarabjit is one case. We have to deal with many cases and Sarabjit's is one of them," he said.

Burney also said that reprieve for Sarabjit will enhance ties between the two nations.

"If settlement of this case can bring both the nations together, then I think he should be forgiven," he said.

Sarabjit has been on death row since the Pakistan's Supreme Court rejected his petition for mercy in March 2006. He has been accused of having played a major role in serial blasts across Pakistan, which claimed at least 14 lives in 1991.

Last month, Burney had urged the new Pakistani Government to consider converting Sarabjit's death sentence into life imprisonment on humanitarian grounds as he had spent more time than a life sentence on death row in Pakistani jails.

President Pervez Musharraf had earlier rejected his appeal for clemency.

Burney had played a significant role in the release of another Indian Kashmir Singh, who had spent 35 years in Pakistani jails.

The day Kashmir Singh was released, Sarbjit's sister Dalbir Kaur had requested Burney to take up the case of her brother. Sarabjit's family claims that his was a clear case of mistaken identity.


ANI

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