Islamabad: Bringing some hope to the family of Sarabjit Singh, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has assured that he will consider the case of the Indian prisoner, who has been on death row in the country for over 20 years. According to sources, Mr Zardari has asked officials to take note of the details of Sarabjit's case, after External Affairs Minister SM Krishna raised the issue during a meeting between the two leaders on Friday.
Yesterday, Pakistan also gave Indian authorities a special consular access to Sarabjit, following his complaints of ill treatment in jail.
49-year-old Sarabjit Singh, who is from Bikhiwind in Punjab, is currently being held at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. He was convicted and sentenced to death for his alleged involvement in a string of bombings in Punjab in 1990 that killed 14 people.
Ironically, Mr Zardari's assurance comes two months after the Pakistan government did a flip-flop on the Indian prisoner's release. On June 26, hours after Pakistan media reported that Sarabjit had been granted a presidential pardon by Mr Zardari, the government clarified that authorities had taken steps for the release of another Indian prisoner named Surjeet Singh.
The goof-up had sparked debate about whether Pakistani media made a mistake, or if the government was pressured by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or the Pakistani army to reverse its decision to release Sarabjit, whose case has prompted campaigns by human rights activists, including Pakistan's Ansar Burney.
Since then, the Indian government had stepped up efforts for the release of Sarabjit. His family also met Mr Krishna, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other leaders to seek intervention for Sarabjit's release.
In May this year, Sarabjit sent a fresh clemency appeal to President Zardari, a fifth one seeking a pardon. Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the matter would be decided according to the law.
(With inputs from PTI)