Katju appeals for Sarabjit release to Zardari

New Delhi: Press Council of India (PCI) Chief Justice Markandey Katju today appealed to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to release Indian national Sarabjit Singh, who is languishing in a Pakistani jail.

In a letter addressed to Zardari through the Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Katju said that Zardari`s visit to India and Ajmer Sharif had created a climate for good relations between the two countries. "I am appealing to you to order release of Sarabjit Singh and his return to India as a humanitarian gesture, exercising your power of pardon as the Pakistan President," Katju wrote in his letter.

"By doing so you will add to the excellent impression among Indians created by your recent visit to Delhi and Ajmer Sharif," he added.

Katju also mentioned the fact that Zardari had earlier honoured an appeal made by the bench of the Indian Supreme Court (consisting of Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and Katju) to release Gopal Das, an Indian who had spent 27 years in Pakistani jails.

Katju reminded Zardari that the Supreme Court had quoted the famous couplet of Pakistani Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz: "Qafas udaas hai yaaron saba se kuch to kaho Kaheen to behar-e-khuda aaj zikr-e-yaar chale" in that judgement.

Thanking Zardari for releasing Gopal Das, Katju appealed "for similar generosity in the case of one Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national, who has been on death row in a Pakistani jail for over 20 years."

Katju also told Zardari that the Indian Supreme Court recently granted bail to Pakistani national Dr Khalil Chishty, for whose release Katju himself had campaigned for long.

Katju concluded his appeal to release the Indian languishing in a Pakistani Prison for 20 years in a death row by by quoting Portia`s speech in Shakespeare`s `Merchant of Venice` on the merits of mercy where she says that it an attribute of God himself.

"The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes if is enthroned in the hearts of kings; It is an attribute of God himself; And earthly power doth then show like God`s When mercy seasons justice," Katju said quoting Shylock.