Pak Prez remits term of Indian convict Gopal Das

Pakistan Prez Asif Ali Zardari remitted the remaining jail term of Indian convict Gopal Das, who has been imprisoned in Pakistan for 27 years, days ahead of a visit to India by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari
on Sunday remitted the remaining jail term of Indian convict Gopal
Das, who has been imprisoned in Pakistan for 27 years, days
ahead of a visit to India by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
to watch the cricket World Cup semi-final featuring the teams
of the two countries.

Zardari remitted the remaining prison term of Das "on
humanitarian grounds", presidential spokesman Farhatullah
Babar said.

The remission was granted on the advice of the Prime
Minister to "honour an appeal of the Supreme Court of India to
the government of Pakistan", he said.

A two-judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court had
appealed to the Pakistan government earlier this month to
remit the remaining period of Das` sentence and release him on
humanitarian grounds.

The court made the appeal in response to a petition
filed by Das` brother Anand Vir.

Babar noted that Indian media reports had mentioned
that the Indian judges had resorted to the "unusual step" of
appealing to Pakistan to consider granting remission to Das on
humanitarian grounds.

He also pointed out that Justice Markandey Katju had,
in his judgement, quoted a couplet by Faiz, "Qafas uddas hai
yaaro sabaa se kuch to kaho, Kaheen to beher-e-khuda aaj
zikr-e-yaar chale".

Das` family has said that he was arrested by Pakistani
security forces when he mistakenly crossed the border in July
1984.

According to official records, Das was sentenced to
life imprisonment in June 1987 and was set to be released by
the end of this year.

However, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister,
the President on Sunday remitted Das` remaining term, Babar said.

"The President signed the remission advice in the wee
hours of Sunday, soon after the invitation of Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh was accepted and it was decided that Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will proceed to Mohali to witness
the semi-final cricket match between the teams of the two
countries," Babar said.

The Home and Interior Secretaries of India and
Pakistan will meet in New Delhi tomorrow for the first in a
series of meetings under the umbrella of the "full spectrum of
dialogue" between the two countries.

Monday’s meeting will mark the formal resumption of
the bilateral peace process that was stalled in the wake of
the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

PTI

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