Lahore: Minutes after he crossed the Wagah Border into India, Surjeet Singh on Thursday said that he would do everything to secure the release of his compatriot Sarabjeet Singh, languishing in the Kot Lakpat jail in Pakistan for the past 22 years.
Singh said this while interacting with the national media minutes after he stepped on his native soil after being released from Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore this morning.
He also expressed optimism that Sarabjit Singh would be released soon.
Speaking to the media, Singh, now 69 years old, said that both sides should release prisoners.
“India should release Pakistani prisoners and Pakistan should release Indian prisoners, that is all I want to say,” he said in Punjabi.
When quizzed about Sarabjit Singh’s well-being, he said, “Sarabjit is in good health and he met him on several occasions.”
However, he admitted that the Pakistani media is anti-Sarabjit.
He also stated that the mix-up by the Pakistan authorities happened due to similar names.
Upon being asked as to whether he would ever come back to Pakistan, he said, “I don’t want to come back to Pakistan.”
When asked whether he did not want to come back because he did not like the country, Singh dispelled the notion saying he actually did like the country but said that was not the reason.
“I was accused of being a spy,” he said. “If I come back, agencies will have doubts that I am here to spy again, that is why I will not come back.”
He said that he was grateful for the way Pakistanis treated him.
Singh, who has served a life term following his arrest on charges of spying in the 1980s, was greeted by family and friends who gave him a heroic welcome upon his arrival at the Wagah Border.
Singh was arrested by Pakistani police on charges of spying during former President Ziaul Haq’s regime and was awarded the death sentence by a court in 1985.
Later in 1989, his punishment was commuted to life imprisonment by former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan as part of a general order to commute all death sentences awarded during the military regime.
On Tuesday night, President Asif Ali Zardari ordered for Singh’s release as a goodwill gesture.
With PTI Input
First Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 12:29