President grant stay in execution of Indian spy, HRCP welcomes Sarabjit reprieve, urges leniency


LAHORE, March 19: While welcoming a one-month stay of execution of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national convicted in Pakistan, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for a review of his case in the larger interest of the people of th

Singh was to be hanged on April 1 following his conviction on charges of involvement in terrorist activities. The Commission said: HRCP is as a matter of principle opposed to the award of the death penalty. While the death penalty continues to be awarded, it has have always argued in favour of leniency and clemency, especially in view of the flawed justice systems in this part of the world. The relations between India and Pakistan have long affected the entire population of South Asia. One of the factors contributing to tensions between the two neighbours is the horrible treatment they mete out to one another's prisoners. The recent death of a Pakistani youth, Khalid Mahmud, caused great distress among the people in Pakistan. The execution of Sarabjit Singh is bound to inflame passions in India. Nothing can condone the death of Khalid Mahmud and his suffering in prison (an inquiry is due), Pakistan will do well to avoid anything that might be considered as vengeful. Pakistan is entering a new phase with the formation of the new government. At a time when normalization of ties between the two countries is likely to be high on the new government's agenda, HRCP urges Pakistan to review Sarabjit's sentence and avoid actions that might be deemed as retaliation. The Associated Press reports that President Pervez Musharraf granted a one-month stay in the execution of a convicted Indian spy who was due to be hanged on April. The Indian man, Sarabjit Singh, has spent 18 years on death row. Indian High Commission spokesman Sanjay Mathur in Islamabad confirmed that news of the stay has been "informally communicated" to the diplomatic mission. Prison official Javed Latif said that Singh has been told about the postponement but he would not say what the prisoner`s reaction was. Singh was jailed in Pakistan in 1990 for alleged espionage and involvement in bomb blasts. On Tuesday, Pakistan`s caretaker Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney urged Musharraf to let Singh live out his days in jail, saying that to execute him after so long on death row would amount to a double punishment and "a murder of human rights." India has also appealed for a reprieve. Last month, Burney successfully petitioned Musharraf to pardon another convicted

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