Unfazed by threats, Burney to continue Sarabjit campaign

By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS,

Islamabad : Unfazed by threats from “fundamental elements”, Human rights activist Ansar Burney Thursday said he would continue to support Sarabjit Singh, the Indian prisoner on death row in Pakistan, as he had been sentenced without any substantial evidence against him.

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“I will continue to provide all support to Sarabjit Singh and if he was hanged, it would be a murder of humanity,” Burney, a former minister, said in a statement while condemning threats to him by, what he termed as, “fundamental elements” for supporting Singh’s release.

“I cannot allow the government to hang Sarabjit Singh on the basis alone that he is non-Muslim and non-Pakistani; and because of pressure from extremist fundamentalist groups,” Burney added.

He said he has been the target of threats and protests by fundamentalist organisations such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Jamaat-i-Islami for his work for human rights and the release of innocent prisoners lodged in Pakistani and foreign prisons.

Burney also requested the Pakistani foreign ministry and the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi to cooperate with him and provide travel documents to Pakistani nationals languishing in Indian prisons, whose release he “had negotiated with the Indian government”.

He said there were over 100 Pakistani nationals in Indian prisons whom the Indian authorities had agreed to release during his trip to India two weeks ago, but to date, the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi or the Pakistani foreign ministry had not prepared travel documents for these suffering Pakistanis or visited them in Indian jails – even though counsellor access had been granted.

He urged Pakistani authorities to provide travel documentations to the Pakistani prisoners on an urgent basis so that the Ansar Burney Trust run by him could secure their release and bring them back home.

Recently, the Trust had released a list of 169 Pakistani prisoners lodged in Indian prisons, most of whom the Indian government had agreed to release to it.

The organisation is currently working to confirm the nationalities of these prisoners and forward these details to the Pakistani foreign office and the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi, so that travel documents could be made for these prisoners and they could be repatriated to Pakistan.