Islamabad: Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik today asked the Pakistan government not to make any "hasty decision" on Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh in the wake of Afzal Guru's execution.
Addressing a gathering of Kashmiri leaders and activists ahead of funeral prayers in absentia in the Pakistani capital for Afzal, Malik said: "I know that some people are demanding that Sarabjit should be hanged. I urge you to make no such demand. That would amount to the same thing as the murder of Guru."
"I ask the government of Pakistan not to make any hasty decision in this regard," he added. Afzal, convicted for his role in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, was hanged and buried in Delhi's Tihar Jail yesterday.
In the wake of the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Mumbai attacker, and Afzal, some Pakistani groups and media commentators have called for the hanging of Sarabjit. Sarabjit has been on death row in a Pakistani jail since he was convicted for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab that killed 14 people.
His family says he is a victim of mistaken identity.The "ghayabana namaz-e-janaza" for Afzal, held at a ground near the National Press Club in Islamabad, was led by Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ghulam Nabi Nowsheri. Dozens of activists of Kashmiri groups participated in the event.
Malik described the hanging of Guru in Delhi's Tihar Jail yesterday as a "blot on Indian democracy". Malik and other leaders contended that Afzal's execution would strengthen the movement in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Even Guru's (Afzal) family was surprised as it was informed three hours after the hanging. What was the emergency? It’s because polls are coming up in India and the Congress government has been facing lots of scandals," Malik said.
The hanging, he contended, had affected Indian law, democracy the Constitution, and the judiciary. "There was pride and hatred behind this decision," he said. Malik condemned the roughing up of Kashmiri students who had gathered in Delhi yesterday to protest Afzal’s hanging as well as the curfew imposed in Jammu and Kashmir.
He urged leaders from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to organise public protests. Though two spokesmen for the Jamaat-ud-Dawah had informed PTI that the organisation's chief, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, would lead the funeral prayers at 2 pm, Saeed came to the venue ahead of schedule and left after making a brief speech.
Saeed claimed the movement in Jammu and Kashmir would gain impetus due to Afzal's hanging. He urged the Pakistan government not to maintain silence on the Kashmir issue. PoK "prime minister" Chaudhry Abdul Majid, in his speech, said people in both parts of Kashmir and all religious and political parties were united on the Kashmir issue.
"I am not against trade or confidence-building measures but our movement will not stop," he said. Majid asked people in PoK to observe a shutdown tomorrow to protest Afzal's hanging. Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Rashid Turabi, while addressing the gathering, claimed a decade of talks and CBMs had produced no results and made the youths realise there was "no option but jihad".
Malik and other JKLF members yesterday began a 24-hour hunger strike outside the National Press Club to pressure Indian authorities to hand over the body of Guru, who was hanged inside Tihar jail, to his family.