Pakistani lawyer Awais Sheikh expects the release order of his Indian client Sarabjit Singh, who is in a Pakistani jail for the last 22 years, to be issued by March.

Hoping that President Asif Ali Zardari will order Sarabjit’s release before the next government assumes power in Pakistan, Mr. Sheikh said here on Tuesday: “The papers for his release are ready. All that is needed is the President’s signature. I hope the government will show mercy on Sarabjit’s petition and he will be in India with his family by March.” “Sarabjit Singh is a victim of confrontation between the two nations. Freeing him is the best confidence building measure Pakistan can offer,” said Mr. Sheikh here at the release of his book Sarabjit Singh – A Case of Mistaken Identity.

 “For the last 22 years Sarabjit is in jail as a victim of mistaken identity. He has been mistaken to be another accused, Manjit Singh, who is alleged to be involved in a series of bombings in Pakistan in 1990. The name Manjit, and not Sarabjit, figures in the FIR filed. Sarabjit is being punished for a crime that he did not commit,” he said.

‘It’s conspiracy’

Reacting to the violence along the Line of Control, he said: “These actions are a conspiracy of non-state actors who do no want to see any improvement in the relationship between Pakistan and India. Such disturbances will not affect the release of Sarabjit as he is innocent.”

 “Following the recent cross-border firing, relations have become strained,” he said, adding that Sarabjit’s release would have a sobering effect on the people of both countries.

Mr. Sheikh is in India on a “Free Sarabjit Campaign” to tell people “the truth about Sarabjit.” “The aim of my book is to make people across the world aware of the facts of the case. People in Pakistan do not know Sarabjit’s story,” Mr. Sheikh said.

 At the book release, Mr. Sheikh was accompanied by Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur and his younger daughter Poonam Kaur.

Ms. Kaur appealed to Mr. Zardari to release Sarabjit and spoke of her visit to Pakistan.

“People in Pakistan do not have any problem in Sarabjit being released. Many prominent leaders, including Mr. Zardari, Rehman Malik and Nawaz Sharif, have assured me that the matter will be looked into sympathetically,” she said.