Islamabad, Jun 22: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday, June 21 told the Pakistan Parliament that the Interior Ministry would be asked to a request plea to President Pervez Musharraf to commute the sentence of those on death row to life imprisonment.
The step will facilitate 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. He has been on death row since the Pakistan's Supreme Court rejected his petition for mercy in March 2006. The President has powers to commute sentences in Pakistan.
Ansar Burney, a former human rights minister in the Pakistan interim government, termed it as a great decision, which would help Sarabjit and others who have completed their life sentences. He said that he would inform Sarabjit Singh's family. On the impact of the decision, Burney said that those who had completed their life sentence would be released as early as possible.
But for those who had not completed it, it will take a bit of time, he added. On April 21, Ansar Burney filed a mercy petition to President Pervez Musharraf seeking clemency for Sarabjit Singh.
On April 18, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had requested Islamabad to grant clemency to Sarabjit on humanitarian grounds. Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani had also sought clemency for Sarabjit. Sarabjit"s family denies he is a spy as claimed by Pakistan, and insists he accidentally strayed into Pakistani territory.
Singh's family has stated that files containing evidence that would help in his acquittal are lost in Pakistan.