Pakistan was ready to free Indian Prisoner Surjeet Singh who has been living in a Pakistani jail from last 30 years but they are not ready to free another prisoner Sarabjit Singh. Pakistan said that instead of releasing Sarabjit Singh, who was sentenced to death for spying, another prisoner Surjeet Singh, in Pakistani custody for three decades, would be released.
Earlier, Pakistani news channels had reported that President Zardari had converted Sarabjit Singh’s death sentence to life imprisonment and directed authorities to release him if he had completed his prison term. But now they said that instead of releasing Sarabjit Singh another prisoner Surjeet Singh would be released.
Surjeet Singh, son of Sucha Singh currently being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, has been in Pakistani captivity for over 30 years. He was captured near the border with India on charges of spying during the era of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq. Surjeet was commuted to death sentence in 1989 by the then President, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day, Benazir Bhutto.
49 year old Sarabjit Singh who is also in the same jail as Surjeet Singh for the past 22 years was convicted for blasts in Lahore and Multan in 1990. At least 10 people were killed in those attacks. He has argued that he is innocent and that he is a farmer from Tarn-Taran who crossed the border by mistake. He was first given the death sentence by a Pakistani judge in 1991. Several appeals were rejected by different courts including the Supreme Court. Former Pakistani President had rejected his mercy petition. His family has campaigned relentlessly for his release. He had sent a fresh clemency appeal to president Zardari in May this year.
Last month, Pakistani prisoner, Dr Khalil Chishty, who was in the Ajmer jail for nearly two decades, returned to his country. The 80-year-old virologist was in jail in a 1992 murder case.