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  Asia-Pacific
Strong Possibility of Sarabjeets Release
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer
Prominent human right activist Ansar Burney with Sarabjit family during his visit to India.

Now the possibilities for release of Sarabjeet from the jail have become strong. It is well known that Sarabjeet has been in Kot Lakhpat jail of Lahore in Pakistan for the last 18 years. According to Sarabjeet Singh's lawyer in Pakistan, Mr. Abdul Hamid Rana, Sarabjeet has been brought out from those cells where the culprits of death sentence are kept. Now he has been kept with other political prisoners. There is news that now Sarabjeet will be kept like a common political prisoners and he will be given all conveniences like them. Farooq Nayak, the minister for law at the centre in Pakistan visited Sarabjeet Singh in jail in the first week of October. After that, file of Sarabjeet Singh was asked by Pak law minister for perusal. Although the power of release Sarabjeet Singh lies with the Pak President Aasif Ali Zardari but the law minister is deeply studying the matter bringing out of Sarabjeet from the death cell is a hint that president Zardari can announce his release at any time.

Sarabjeet singh, resident of Tarantaran in Punjab state of India has been in Jail in Pakistan since 1990. He has been charged of spying and getting 4 bomb blasts. A surprise to note is that the involved person in the bomb blast in Pakistan is being addressed as Manjeet singh. But his family members in India have given all the proofs that the person being addressed as Manjeet singh is not Manjeet singh but a simple, gentle and innocent member of their family, Sarabjeet singh who crossed the border in a drunker state of mind and was caught by the Pakistan police. In the meantime, there were four serial bomb blasts in Lahore in 1990, where Pakistan police arrested him as main conspirator and put him in jail.

The date of hanging Sarabjeet was April 1st on this year. But after the change of power in Pakistan, the then president Parvez Musharraf postponed the date of hanging for thirty days. Musharraf did so because the newly elected Pakistan people party Government in Pakistan may well examine the matter regarding the release of Sarabjeet. Although the supreme court in Pakistan had already rejected the plea petition of Sarabjeet for release. But after the formation of new government, the newly appointed Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani inferred in it and postponed the hanging till next order. Now the last decision about the release of Sarabjeet is to be taken by the president Asif Ali Zardari. But as the circumstances are changing to positive for the release of Sarabjeet it seems that his release may become possible at any time.

In fact the human right organizations has been strongly demanding to ban the death sentence and hanging in Pakistan and to change it into life imprisonment. The former Prime minister Begum Benazir Bhutto too had favored this demand of the human right organization. She also wanted that death sentence should be changed into life imprisonment. It is to be noticed that about 7000 prisoners are facing death sentence in Pakistan at present. According to human rights watch, a human rights organization at New York, it is the largest number facing death sentence in a country in the world. Last year, in 2007, the number of persons who were given death sentence was 309, and 134 out of them were hanged.

Under these circumstances, Pakistan people party is preparing to act upon the plan of issuing a law, as a tribute to its former leader Benazir Bhutto, to change the death sentence into life imprisonment. Last days it was announced in Pakistan by the Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on the day of 55th birthday of Benazir Bhutto. And a resolution in this regard to change the punishment of the prisoners was sent to the then President Pervez Musharraf. But Pervez Musharraf who was involved in his own problems could not take any decision in this regard. It is hoped that the present President Zardari will take an early decision on this recommendation of Pak Prime Minister Gilani.

Undoubtedly the relatives of Sarabjeet have been trying hard for his release. Specially his sister Dalbir Kaur has been meeting the leaders at apex like Indian prime minister or sometimes to Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi and have requested for the innocence and release of Sarabjeet. Last days, Dalbir Kaur in the company of Sarabjeet's wife and two daughters reached Kot Lakhpat jail in Pakistan. There she served Sarabjeet with home cooked food for about after18 years and tied Rakhi on his wrist after so long interval of time. Besides this visit the relatives of Sarabjeet release and innocence to the there present official across the Wagah border. Undoubtedly the former human right Minister of Pakistan, Ansar burny played a very important role in encouraging his sister Dalbir Kaur and his relatives. Last days, burny paid a visit in India and visited the family members of Sarabjeet in their house.

There he took with him the proofs that Sarabjeet is Sarabjeet and not Manjeet. At that time Ansar Burny promised the people of India that he will help Sarabjeet for justice. Interestingly he is the same Burney whose first opinion was that Sarabjeet is a terrorist and have killed 14 persons in Pakistan. Because of this assumption, Burney had no interest in Sarabjeet issue. But after seeing the related proofs regarding Sarabjeet, Burney changed his opinion and at the same time he is trying his best to get his released. If Sarabjeet is released and returns to his country, certainly there would be an important role of Burney in it.

Last days, in India, a senior Gandhian, Nirmala Deshpandey expired. The information and broadcasting minister of Pakistan Sherry Rehman came to Delhi, in this regard. At that time Rehman assured that pity petition of Sarabjeet is lying with the Pak government and she will try her best for the release of Sarabjeet. On the other hand, the meeting of the law minister of Pakistan, Farooq Nayak with Sarabjeet and just after a few days, the bringing of Sarabjeet out of the death cell proves that Pak government has some soft corner for Sarabjeet. It seems that the Pakistan government will give a pleasant gift of Sarabjeet's release, at any time to India. It will be just as an Indian prisoner Kashmir Singh was released from Pakistan jail a few days back.

Same controversial issues as Kashmir problem bring bitterness in Indo-Pak relations but there are some issues as the release of Sarabjeet, these can play an important role in removing the bitterness of the relations. Both India and Pakistan should get the investigations done about the doubtful prisoners. Immediate steps should be taken to release the innocent prisoners. Undoubtedly this release will be an important and positive step taken in direction of Indo-Pak friendship.



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Other Articles by Tanveer Jafri
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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes on a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.

 

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