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Sarabjit issue: Pak says India's request being examined

Source: PTI
August 24, 2005 21:01 IST
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Pakistan on Wednesday informed India that its request for consular access to Sarabjit Singh, sentenced to death for his alleged involvement in bomb blasts in Pakistan, was being examined as senior Ministers in Islamabad were locked in a debate as to whether President Pervez Musharraf was authorised to pardon him.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhmmad Khan informed Indian High Commissioner Shivshankar Menon during a meeting that New Delhi's request was being examined, Indian officials in Islamabad said.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri also told PTI that the Indian request had been referred to the Interior Ministry and a decision on it would be taken soon.

Indian High Commission officials had sought consular access to firmly establish Singh's identity and national status before proceeding ahead on the options to get him out.

Pakistan claims Sarabjit Singh is Manjit Singh.

Also read: Only blast victims' kin can pardon Sarabjit

The request for access, second during the last 15 years since Sarabjit Singh's arrest, has not been acceded to so far.

"He has been known by different names and we will like to firmly establish his identity. Despite repeated attempts we have not been able to meet him or any of 107 other prisoners who have been convicted in Pakistan," an Indian official in Islamabad said.

Menon met Khan and discussed the issues relating to the case. The two also reportedly discussed the forthcoming visit of Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran to Pakistan to review progress in the second round of composite dialogue process on September one and two.

Meanwhile, some locals and the family of Singh, which is insisting that he has been wrongly convicted and it is a case of mistaken identity, took out a peace march on Wednesday along the Indo-Pak border at Khalra near Amritsar to appeal for his release.

"We appeal to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to free him and reverse the death sentence," Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur, who accompanied the marchers, said.

"It is a case of mistaken identity. The case is against some Manjit Singh. My husband is innocent and I want the government to talk to Musharraf to save him," she said.
Vehemently denying that Sarabjit was a Research and Analysis Wing agent, Sukhpreet said the government should send the evidence of his innocence to President Musharraf.
Her teenaged daughters Poonam and Swapandeep, who also accompanied the marchers, said they hoped their father would be set free soon 'because he is innocent.'

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