Islamabad: Leading rights activist Ansar Burney today appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari to convert the death sentence of Indian national Sarabjit Singh, facing gallows on charges of involvement in bomb blasts in Pakistan, to life imprisonment on humanitarian grounds.
Noting that Sarabjit had been on death row for nearly 21 years, Burney said in a letter sent to the President that the Indian national`s possible hanging should be halted and his death sentence converted to life imprisonment "in the greater interest of humanity, human dignity, justice and human rights".
Burney noted that he had submitted several mercy petitions on Sarabjit`s behalf to the President.
He said any move to hang a prisoner who had already spent such a long time in jail would be tantamount to a "murder of justice".
"I would like to mention here that one day in a death cell is equal to one year in a normal jail and that prolonged detention in the worst and inhuman circumstances on death row is, at the very least, cruel treatment and the worst kind of human rights violations...," Burney said in his letter.
Burney`s request was made against the backdrop of the Indian Supreme Court`s order allowing 82-year-old Pakistani national Khalil Chishti to travel back home after being granted bail.
Chishti was accused of involvement in the murder of a man during a brawl in Ajmer in April 1992. At the time, he was visiting India to meet relatives.
In January last year, Chishti was given life imprisonment after an 18-year trial.