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File photo shows relatives of Sarabjit Singh. — File photo
File photo shows relatives of Sarabjit Singh. — File photo

Awais Sheikh, the counsel for Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh who was murdered in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail in May 2013, has taken permanent refuge in Sweden, the Times of India reported.

Sheikh took refuge in the Scandinavian country following his alleged abduction bid near Lahore a day before Singh’s death.

Singh, who was sentenced to death 16 years ago on espionage charges, died at Lahore’s Jinnah hospital after lying in a comatose state for five days following an assault on him in Kot Lakhpat jail.

Sheikh and his son Shahrukh were allegedly abducted from their Bedian Road farm on May 16 and were released three and half hours later.

Sheikh was known for fighting cases of Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails and had also written a book on the life of Singh titled ‘Mistaken Identity’.

Speaking to the TOI over telephone from Sweden on Monday, Sheikh said: "Sweden has granted me permanent stay along with my family and has also provided me all facilities and security after taking note of my abduction and physical torture."

The lawyer claimed that his life was under constant threat in Pakistan from people and organisations “inimical to India-Pak friendship”.

In his interview with the TOI, Sheikh mentioned a letter written by Zohra Yusuf, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, on May 3 to Najam Sethi, who was the caretaker chief minister of Punjab at the time, for providing security to the counsel and his family.

Sheikh claimed that the letter was ignored by the provincial authorities.

Sheikh did not elaborate as to what he was doing in Sweden “except that he was just settling in the new place”, adding that however, his family felt secure in the Scandinavian country.

Prisoners of war

During the telephone interview, Sheikh, who also heads an NGO called “Pakistan-India Peace Initiatives”, quoted an incident of meeting a 1971 prisoner of war (PoW) Sepoy Mangal Singh of 14 Punjab Regiment in Central Jail, Lahore.

Sheikh said his intention in referring to Mangal Singh’s case was not to defame Pakistan but to remind and convince both countries “to realise their moral and international obligations and free all POWs with immediate effect”.

Islamabad has always denying the presence of any PoWs in Pakistani jails.

In 2008, the then federal minister for human rights, Ansar Burney, had told reporters that the Indian High Commissioner had handed him a list of around 100 missing Indian PoWs in Pakistani jails and that the Pakistani government was working to resolve the issue.

Also in May this year, Burney had written to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to conduct a probe on whether there were any Indian PoWs in Pakistani jails. However, no development on the issue has since come to light.

At the end of the 1971 war, New Delhi and Islamabad signed the Simla Agreement under which the countries were obliged to release soldiers that had been taken as PoWs. However, to date, there have been reports that both countries continue to hold some PoWs that had not been released.

There has been no official acknowledgement of such ‘prisoners’.

Comments (28) Closed

Bob-Wuxi Sep 30, 2013 03:55pm

Why say claims while states is just as good. Are you trying to say that his statement is not true? Is Pakistan and safe country? There are no human rights and there is no justice in Pakistan. The person who wrote this report sound envious or even jealous that why the lawyer got asylum in Sweden.

sh Sep 30, 2013 03:57pm

Times of India is the source? Well even the Indians themselves don't take that newspaper seriously.

rahul Sep 30, 2013 05:28pm

Surprising... no comments from any pakistani yet...

Yahoo Best Tool Sep 30, 2013 05:49pm

its not fair India is big dangerous for Pakistan he is not our friend

piterson Sep 30, 2013 05:56pm

Request to Dawn News

Seems that dawn is the sister paper of TOI Better you keep your identity rather than spreading their agenda .. Spread fear and journalism of courage

Nasiroski Sep 30, 2013 06:24pm

This reflects big on us as a nation that is completely intolerant and cannot handle difference of opinion. This is not the first time a Judge or lawyer has to claim asylum in another country. As far Najam Sethi is concerned he has ran out of integrity a long time ago this only confirms his complete absence of morals.

Hasan,SZ Sep 30, 2013 07:26pm

Awais Sheikh was a briefless lawyer in the district courts in Lahore. His sole aim from the very beginning was to go abroad and seek asylum for economic benefits.Knowing that under the present circumstances and tight asylum policy of the European countries it was impossible. He carefully planned for years his case for asylum. The so-called abduction was a fake drama to publicise and make his case strong. Eventually Sweden fell into his trap ! Anyone who disbelieves me can go and check the record of Income tax paid by Awais in the past 10 years which is Zero Rupees !He cannot practice law in Sweden because of the language and other restrictions plus his calibre as a lawyer which is highly doubtful.He would now be another burden on the State of Sweden.

Sandeep Singh Sep 30, 2013 09:28pm

There is nothing to work with pakistan. Just seal the border like China did two days ago.

Kalyan Sep 30, 2013 09:45pm

There is a justice system for a reason. People who seek to subvert this system and take law into their own hands must not be encouraged. Human Rights organizations need to hold governments accountable. Failure to protect human rights should result in politicians losing their seats. Otherwise nothing will happen.

manish Sep 30, 2013 10:26pm

I think its us the people of both countries and not government who should be blame for this. We don't care about humanity we only care about are ego and hatred and blame government judge the politician whenever we get a chance.

Cicero (usa) Sep 30, 2013 10:36pm

Sheikh Sahib, why run to Sweden ? India would have gladly given you asylum but then who wants to live in india? You were probably one of those hundreds of Pakistani lawyers who are looking for attention from the press & public. How did you manage to get away from your abductors in 3 hours ? Anyway, not a bad deal for defending a convicted killer Sarabjit Singh.Enjoy the hospitality of Swedes, good fortune moves mysteriously.

Taimoor Khan Sep 30, 2013 11:27pm

Non issue. Is it a strange coincident when Urdu media reported Arch bishop of Pakistan saying that India was responsible for the Peshaware church blast yet, no such reporting in "english" so called media of Pakistan.

sattar rind Oct 01, 2013 02:05am

It would be better if we avoid our best the human rights Violation.

Yogesh Oct 01, 2013 02:58am

This is difference between India and Pakistan. In India Kasab was provided lawyer at government's expenses and he does not face any risk. In Pakistan lawyers and judges have to run for their dear life.

Sameer Oct 01, 2013 05:40am

It is time for both the countries to do a complete prisoner exchange.

Shahpur Oct 01, 2013 05:45am

No more Indian clients, but a good resume, and better working conditions in Sweden. May be time to write another book, how he and his family survived and they ended up in Sweden. I am happy and surprised he and his family is well and alive. Of course he will always miss Lahore.

Khan Oct 01, 2013 05:53am

I have heard awais shaikh on Indian channel and he is a shameless traitor who only to please Indians. He should be stripped of his Pakistani nationality.

Hassan Oct 01, 2013 06:36am

These PoW have spend their lives in Jails for ages in both India and Pakistan. I think its time that both countries show some respect to these PoW and release them on good faith. Their families will be very happy to see them.... Lets not wait for India to do it first... we Pakistanis should initiate and take the first step.... Let us release these PoW on humanitarian grounds....

Shri Oct 02, 2013 06:11am

@piterson: Do you deny the fact that Awais Sheikh has taken refuge in Sweden because of threat to his life in Pakistan ?

mohammad Oct 02, 2013 07:52am

we have to fully respect others rights as shown by our faith islam.

sanny Oct 02, 2013 10:51am

@sh: Better not take Dawn seriously as well

ranganath Oct 02, 2013 12:29pm

@sh: You are right boss. Self stopped subscribing it long time ago. It is a junk newspaper. Not sure how TOI claims to be the higher seller in the country.

Salman Oct 02, 2013 01:27pm

Rahul.. as a Pakistani I have nothing to say to this ... except that its a shame that is had to come to this for the lawyer and his family. There are entities on both sides of the border that are against indo-pak relations.. personally i dont support them, and hope for friendly relations between the two nations.

Tariq Mehsud Oct 02, 2013 10:26pm

I guess indian commentators got nothing else to do except leaving comments with full of hate at dawn why can't they stop giving us lectures many Pakistanis do not even bother reading or leaving hate filled comments on indian newspapers

aditya Oct 03, 2013 05:32am

@Khan: Ummnn..being stripped of his pakistani citizenship might be the best thing these days out in the real world amigo..or havent yah noticed how the black carpet rolls ut when your pakistani passport is flashed..

aditya Oct 03, 2013 05:38am

@Taimoor Khan: yep..india did it using a israeli bomb and a american rickshaw..there is no way a pakistani could be involved in the word BOOM

aditya Oct 03, 2013 05:42am

@piterson: Dawn dosent need to spread fear in pakistan..its everywhere and all pervasive

aditya Oct 03, 2013 05:40am

@sh: no we dont..but at least we arent intolerant and close minded and think like its the 14 th century out there