Press release, March 19
LAHORE: While welcoming a one-month stay of execution of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national convicted in Pakistan, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for a review of his case in the larger interest of the people of the sub-continent.
Singh was to be hanged on April 1 following his conviction on charges of involvement in terrorist activities.
The Commission said: HRCP is as a matter of principle opposed to the award of the death penalty. While the death penalty continues to be awarded, it has have always argued in favour of leniency and clemency, especially in view of the flawed justice systems in this part of the world.
The relations between India and Pakistan have long affected the entire population of South Asia. One of the factors contributing to tensions between the two neighbours is the horrible treatment they mete out to one another’s prisoners. The recent death of a Pakistani youth, Khalid Mahmud, caused great distress among the people in Pakistan. The execution of Sarabjit Singh is bound to inflame passions in India. Nothing can condone the death of Khalid Mahmud and his suffering in prison (an inquiry is due), Pakistan will do well to avoid anything that might be considered as vengeful.
Pakistan is entering a new phase with the formation of the new government. At a time when normalization of ties between the two countries is likely to be high on the new government’s agenda, HRCP urges Pakistan to review Sarabjit’s sentence and avoid actions that might be deemed as retaliation.