India to raise prisoners’ issue with Pakistan

May 19th, 2008 - 8:39 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) India will raise the issue of Indian prisoners in Pakistan, when the foreign ministers of the two countries meet Wednesday. While Sarabjit Singh, an Indian, is facing death sentence in Pakistan, an official source said here Sunday that it will not be beneficial to talk about just one Indian prisoner.

“While Sarabjit Singh’s case may be raised, we will talk broadly about the plight of all prisoners in Pakistani jails,” the source said.

Sarabjit Singh was convicted for his involvement in bomb attacks in Pakistan nearly two decades ago, but his family said it was a case of mistaken identity and he is innocent.

His family has led a high-profile campaign to get his sentence commuted to life term, with the Indian government also appealing for mercy on humanitarian grounds.

Pakistan deferred his execution twice and May 3 postponed it indefinitely.

On May 6, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his first reaction to reports of Sarabjit Singh’s execution being put off indefinitely said that India and Pakistan should deal with the prisoners issue on “humanitarian grounds”.

“India and Pakistan should deal with the issue on humanitarian grounds to ease the sufferings of the prisoners,” Manmohan Singh said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani May 9 urged President Pervez Musharraf to consider pardoning Sarabjit Singh, raising hopes of his early release.

A Pakistani daily reported Saturday that India and Pakistan are to sign an agreement next week for immediate declaration of arrests of each other’s nationals, early release of those inadvertently crossing borders and the Line of Control (LoC), and consular access to all prisoners within three months of arrest.

India and Pakistan last year signed an agreement establishing a joint committee of judges to look into the welfare of prisoners in each other countries and regular exchange of lists of prisoners.

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