ibnlive » India

Jun 28, 2012 at 11:25am IST

Sarabjit Singh's release a well-timed move?

New Delhi: Sarabjit Singh, the Indian citizen languishing in a Pakistani jail for the past 22 years is to be freed. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. The gesture comes just months after India released Pakistani scientist Dr Mohammed Khalil Chisti.

Meanwhile, it was a day of celebration for Sarabjit's family in Jalandhar.

"This is a victory for all Indians. I want to thank Pakistani President," said Sarabjit's sister.

"We are seeing an improvement in relations between India and Pakistan. This is one more step in that direction," said Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

The final push for Sarabjit came after he filed his fifth mercy petition to the president - including one lakh signatures from activists on both sides of the border pleading for his release.

President Zardari's decision also comes two months after his visit to India, when he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed the plight of prisoners including jailed Pakistani scientist Dr Khalil Chisti, who was released in April.

It also comes a week before crucial Foreign Secretary talks in new Delhi, with a possible view to ease the atmosphere ahead of some tough talking over terror- and the 26/11 investigations.