Pakistan is not very fortunate to have many think tanks and analysts who keep record of previous incidents. The interested groups take full advantage of this shortfall and mould history to suite their requirement. The Perceptors group of intellectuals have been thoughtful to collect details on surjeet- Sarbjeet Singh and asked the mediapoint to publish this exclusive effort . The case of Kashmir Singh and Dr Chishti are also discussed to refresh the memory. However Pakistan president spokes person said that it is not Sarabjit but Surjeet they are talking about.
Several hours after the reports that an Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh was being released after President Zardari granted him pardon, the presidential spokesman late Tuesday night clarified that authorities had taken steps for the release of another Indian prisoner named Surjeet Singh jailed in Pakistan for thirty years.
“I think there is some confusion. First, it is not a case of pardon. More importantly, it is not Sarabjit. It is Surjeet Singh, son of Sucha Singh. His death sentence was commuted in 1989 by President (Ghulam) Ishaq (Khan) on the advice of (then premier) Benazir Bhutto,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
On May 23, a special meeting was held at the Home Department, Government of the Punjab, Civil Secretariat, Lahore, where it was decided that Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh would be repatriated by the end of this month.
“I will be at Wagah border to say goodbye to him. Thanks to God Almighty for his blessings,” writes Sheikh.
Surjeet Singh (different from another Indian prisoner, Sarabjit Singh whose case Sheikh has also taken up) was arrested in 1982 on charges of spying. A military court convicted him and awarded the death sentence. Later, during Benazir Bhutto’s regime, then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. Despite having completed 25 years in September, 2004, Surjeet Singh was not released.
After meeting his daughter and son in Amritsar last year advocate Awais Sheikh filed a writ petition on Surjeet Singh’s behalf in the Lahore High Court, stating that he had been languishing in prison even after completing his jail term and requesting the court to direct the secretary of foreign affairs and superintendent of Central Jail Lahore to include his name in the list of foreigner prisoners who had completed their jail term and were being repatriated. “There is no law to keep a prisoner in jail after completion of his sentence,” observed Chief Justice Lahore High Court Manzoor Ahmad Malik.
In response to the Ministry of Interior dragging its feet he threatened to decide the case exparte if the Ministry did not submit its report within a stipulated time. On May 8, the Punjab home department finally informed the Court that Surjeet Singh had been given civil internee status and would be sent back to India within three months.
A home department letter to this effect, sent earlier to the superintendent of Central Jail Lahore, was presented to Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik. The superintendent of Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore, had submitted a report at the previous hearing stating that although Surjeet Singh’s jail term had expired, his fate could only be decided after directions from the General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi and the presidency.
Sarabjit Singh, also known as Jaljit Singh, is an Indian citizen and convicted terrorist jailed in Pakistan. He was convicted for his involvement in 1990 serial bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed 14 people. He claims that he is just a poor farmer and victim of mistaken identity, who strayed into Pakistan from his village located on the border.
He was given death sentence, but his hanging was repeatedly postponed. He is imprisoned in the Kot Lakhpat jail. On 26th June 2012, Finally Pakistan President ordered the release after the petition was filed on 28th May earlier this year.  Sarabjit Singh has already completed his life imprisonment by spending 22 years in prison and he will be released immediately.
On August 24, 2005 Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan said that ‘The alleged Indian agent Manjit Singh confessed his involvement in bomb blasts in Pakistan whose all evidences were presented in court.
According to the record, he was arrested red handed during crossing the border in August 1990 near the Kasur. Nine days later, he was produced before a magistrate , a man wanted for acts of terrorism in Pakistan. Before the magistrate, Manjit confessed to his crime. Also Pakistan says he was working for the Indian intelligence agency RAW when he was arrested in Lahore.Later on he denied it all during trial . He maintained that his name was Sarabjit Singh and that he had often crossed the Kasur border, smuggling alcohol.But his family was saying he didn’t cross the border.
He was awarded the death penalty by the Anti-Terrorist Court in 1991, based on evidence,eye witnessed and the original confession he had made before a magistrate. His sentence was upheld by the High Court and later by the Supreme Court. He was likely to be hanged on May 2008. The Supreme Court rejected his mercy petition in March 2006 and upheld the death sentence. President Pervez Musharraf had rejected his mercy petition on March 3. He had filed a fresh clemency which was his fifth one which was finally approved by the President.
Arguments from India
Later on he denied it all during trial. He maintained that his name was Sarabjit Singh and that he had often crossed the Kasur border, smuggling alcohol . Manjit Singh’s relatives claim he is a simple farmer who was arrested after he strayed across the Pakistani border from his northern frontier hometown of Bhikiwind in Punjab state while drunk in 1990. His wife Sukh Prit Kaur, a resident of Bhikhiwind village of district Tarantaran, claimed he left to plough his fields near Wagah Border on August 28, 1990, but never returned. She said the family launched a search but could not find any clue to his whereabouts for nine months and finally they received a letter from Manjit informing them that he was caught by Pakistani border forces when he mistakenly crossed the border under the influence of liquor. External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh took up Manjit Singh’s case with Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan and urged him to convey Delhi’s hope that Islamabad would treat the matter as a humanitarian issue.
Visit of his family to Pakistan
Later on the Government of Pakistan granted a seven-day visa to Manjit’s family to visit Lahore.
“We are hopeful that the government of Pakistan will release Manjit Singh after reviewing his death sentence and our visit to Pakistan will not prove futile”, Manjit’s wife Sukh Prit Kaur, who was accompanied by his two daughters Swapan Deep and Poonam Kaur, a sister and a paternal uncle, expressed hope at Gurdwara Dera Sahib after her arrival at the city via Wagah on Wednesday.
In April 2008, a group of Pakistani students organized a march, seeking withdrawal of all official moves to pardon Sarabjit. They also demanded a boycott of western products and culture and promotion of Islamic teachings.
Key witness retracts statement
Shaukat Salim, a key witness in the case against Sarabjit, was caught on tape retracting his statement on April 26, 2008. Salim’s father and other relatives were killed in the attack, and he says that Sarabjit was the one who planted the bomb. But, earlier, he had said that he made the statements implicating Sarabjit under pressure from the Pakistani police. Meanwhile, Sarabjit’s lawyer Abdul Rana Hamid told Indian News Channel CNN-IBN that Salim’s statements have no value as they were never recorded in court.
Comments from media on release of Sarbjeet Singh
Geo (Capital Talk Topic: Sarbjeet Singh) Dr. Chishti was not imprisoned on charge of terrorism but Sarbjeet Singh is terrorist and killer of 19 Pakistani and he is released under CBMs. Do you expect that India will ever release Ajmal Kasab? (Khawaja Saad Rafique)
Geo (Capital Talk Topic: Sarbjeet Singh) if you are releasing a convicted terrorist it means that you are not respecting Pakistani laws. His release will harm Pakistani system. (Maria Sultan)
Geo (Capital Talk Topic: Sarbjeet Singh) Without getting pardon from the heirs of deceased in terrorist attack, president cannot over rule the right of heirs and pardon Surbjeet Singh. Presidency is hurdle in capital punishment of many convicted. (Ansar Abbasi)
Kashmir Singh (born 1941), who was an Indian spy, spent 35 years of his life in Pakistani prisons before he was released with the Presidential pardon by Pervez Musharraf.
In his early life, he was in he Indian Army from 1962-1966. After working in the Punjab Police for a while, he took up spying on a contractual basis at the rate of Rs. 400 per month. Thereafter, he entered Pakistan in the guise of Ibrahim, a Muslim name. Using this name, he checked into hotels and got identity cards during his task.
In 1973, he was arrested on the 22nd Milestone on the Peshawar-Rawalpindi road by Pakistani intelligence officers. Upon arrest, he was accused of espionage and smuggling but it could not be proved by the authorities. At the time of his arrest, his family included his wife, Paramjit Kaur, and three children under the age of 10.
Subsequently in the same year, he was sentenced to death by a Pakistan Army court. This verdict was upheld by a civil court in between 1976 and 1977 and a mercy petition followed this, but to no avail. After being sentenced to an indefinite jail term, he said that he “was tortured third degree for the first few months by the authorities” as they pressurized him to confess of being an Indian spy. Singh was lodged in seven different jails in Pakistan and was “kept in solitary confinement and remained chained for 17 long years.”
Singh’s entire family but for Paramjit, his wife had lost hope for his return. In 1986, when the Pakistan government released a few Indian prisoners, who were accused of spying, from the Lahore jail, the family knew that he was alive, but on a death sentence.
In 2008, the caretaker Human rights minister, Ansar Burney spotted him while visiting the Lahore jail. Burney said that Singh became mentally disabled after his years in jail. He immediately put up his case with the Government of Pakistan that sought Singh’s release. He further added that he had “fought his case on humanitarian grounds as he [Singh] had spent 35 years in jail.”
On seeing this, President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf accepted this mercy petition and ordered for release and repatriation of Singh to India.
On March 4, 2008, he was released by Pakistan and entered India through the Wagah border amidst celebrations.
Times of India Report
But this gesture was returned by India by brutally Killing of a Pakistani prisoner in Indian jail.
Extracts: ”Having seen off Kashmir Singh at Wagah Border last week amid joy and laughter, Pakistanis assembled again yesterday at the same point to receive the body of an innocent Pakistani cricket-lover amid tears and grief.”
Another comment : Though Burney claimed to have started a new era of relations with the archrival by releasing a their spy in such a dramatic fashion, the other side responded within no time.
In return, they dispatched the tormented and tortured dead body of Khalid Mehmood, who was caught by Indian agencies shortly after he reached there to watch a cricket match.
Conclusion: Above quoted history apart if the decision to pardon has been institutionalized through government and not individuals and has the required input from Gen Kiyani and his agencies, Pakistanis and the world may accept it as another gesture of its contribution towards peace in the region.