ISLAMABAD: 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.
Law Minister Farooq Naek today conveyed to the Interior Ministry that Surjeet Singh had completed his lifeterm in jail and ought to be released and sent back to India, Babar said.
Keeping him in jail any longer will be illegal confinement," he added.
Any references to President Asif Ali Zardari in the entire matter were "out of context", the presidential spokesman said.
Surjeet Singh, currently being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, has been in Pakistani captivity for over 30 years. He was captured near the border with India on charges of spying during the era of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.
Earlier in the day, media had reported that President Zardari had converted Sarabjit Singh's death sentence to life imprisonment and directed authorities to release him if he had completed his prison term.
Following the news even the Indian media jumped to the conclusions and started beaming reports welcoming the move by Pakistan without confirming it through diplomatic sources.