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File Photo shows Dalbir Kaur (C) and Poonam (last name not provided) (L), sister and daughter of Sarabjit Singh, demonstrate for the Indian prisoner’s release in Amritsar on June 25, 2009. – AFP (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: The government in an unusual way late on Tuesday took a u-turn on release of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, convicted of spying charges, said release orders were signed for “Surjit Singh” and not for “Sarabjit Sigh”, DawnNews reported.

Presidential Spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar, in a statement given to an Indian media outlet, has clarified that the prisoner, whose death sentence was converted to life imprisonment, was actually “Surjit Singh” and not “Sarabjit Singh.”

“I think there is some confusion. First, it is not a case of pardon. More importantly, it is not Sarabjit. It is Surjit Singh, son of Sucha Singh. His death sentence was commuted in 1989 by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the advice of then premier Benazir Bhutto,” said Babar.

“Keeping him in jail any longer will be illegal confinement,” he added.

Any references to President Zardari in the entire matter were “out of context,” the presidential spokesman said.

Surjit Singh, currently being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, has been in Pakistani captivity for over 30 years. He was captured near the border with India on charges of spying during the era of military ruler General Ziaul Haq.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that the president had converted Sarabjit Singh's death sentence to life imprisonment and directed authorities to release him if he had completed his prison term.

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