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Burney not to help Sarabjit; says his case is different
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March 17, 2008 19:59 IST

A Pakistani minister, who was instrumental in the recent release of the Indian death row prisoner Kashmir Singh, on Monday said he would not submit any petition in support of Sarabjit Singh, set to be hanged on April 1, as he had been 'charged with terrorism'.

Caretaker human rights minister Ansar Burney said in a statement in Lahore [Images] that he had supported the release of Kashmir Singh, who was sent back to India on March 4 after spending 35 years on death row, because he had paid for his 'crime'.

After consideration, President Pervez Musharraf [Images] had granted Kashmir Singh mercy, he said, adding Sarabjit's case was different as he had been 'charged with terrorism'.

Sarabjit was sentenced to death for alleged involvement in the 1990 bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that claimed 14 lives. The Pakistani minister expressed disappointment at the attempt by an 'extremist lobby' to give 'a negative feel' to the move by the President to release Kashmir Singh.

Burney said the reason for his petition in support of Kashmir Singh was that he had already spent 35 years on death row and it was against Pakistani law and Islamic teachings to hang such a person.

Meanwhile, Punjab province home secretary Khusro Pervaiz has said that Sarabjit can only be pardoned by the victims' families.

"Under Pakistani law, it is the family of the victims which has the right to pardon if all other efforts fail. We don't think that anybody has approached the family of the victims," Pervaiz told Dawn News channel, while claiming that there was 'sufficient proof' of Sarabjit's involvement in the attacks.

"This case was not simple espionage. It was a case where four acts of terrorism took place and (Sarabjit) was fully involved in that. Innocent lives were lost; how can he be released?" Pervaiz asked. "On the basis of that evidence and proof, he has been convicted and he will be hanged on April 1".

The Indian High Commission has sought consular access to Sarabjit. Officials from the Indian mission were last granted consular access to Sarabjit in 2005.

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