Will Sarabjeet be spared the gallows under plans to commute death sentences?

      The Pakistan government is considering commuting death sentences, but such a step may not help the cause of Sarabjeet Singh, the Indian inmate who has been awarded a death sentence by a Lahore anti-terrorism court in October 1991. Interior Advisor Rehman Malik said the government has sent a draft to the law division seeking legal opinion on the proposal to commute death sentences. Rehman, however, said that even if the proposal is accepted there would be no mercy for terrorists. "They (terrorists) will have to face the death penalty," The Dawn quoted Malik, as saying. According to an estimate there are 7000 death inmates in Pakistan at present. Pakistan security agencies have maintained that Singh had admitted that he was sent to Pakistan to carry out serial bomb blasts in Lahore, Faislabad, and Kasur, and was trained by the Indian Army, and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Singh was awarded the death sentence by a Lahore anti-terrorism court in October 1991. He challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court, however, the apex court quashed his appeal in September, 2005, saying that the review petition was not filed within the time period as mentioned in the law. In March 2006, a two member Supreme Court bench dismissed Singh's petition against his conviction in the Lahore's Yakki Gate bomb blast in 1990. Singh has been languishing in Pakistan jails for the last 28 years, as Pakistan has stonewalled release even on humanitarian grounds, despite continuous efforts by Indian diplomatic channels.

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