The price of injurious apathy

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NEWS & VIEWS
Mohammad Jamil
OUR political hierarchy has failed in convincing the world about India’s involvement in inciting militancy in our tribal areas and in instigating insurgency in Balochistan. While the Indian establishment, along with political class, media and intelligentsia, was always out, working proactively, aggressively and vociferously to put Pakistan on the mat in every forum, Islamabad kept cringing and genuflecting before New Delhi. More often than not, it remained on the defensive, and did not counter India’s vicious propaganda effectively. Take the latest case of Indian spy, terrorist and on-duty navy officer Kulbhushan Jadev’s involvement in terror acts resulting in loss of life and property. India is getting away with its skullduggery in every case because of injurious apathy of inert Islamabad hierarchy to the great hurt to nation’s name and image internationally. Pakistan has belatedly started speaking about Indian intelligence agencies’ vile games in our sensitive areas.
However, by taking case of Kulbhushan Jadev to International Court of Justice and getting the stay about his execution, India feels emboldened. Recently it has sought consular access for another Indian spy and terrorist Muhammad Shabbir s/o Nateh Khan, an Indian National resident of Sakan Topo, Tehsil Maindar, District Poonch, Indian Occupied Kashmir. He had visited Azad Jammu and Kashmir in 1987, and on his return he was intercepted and apprehended by Indian intelligence agencies in IOK with whom he agreed to work for them. Later, he was apprehended by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies from Islamgarh on 17 December 1999 for having carried out bomb blast in a bus in Islamgarh in which 8 persons were killed and 22 others seriously injured. He was tried in Session Court and Qazi Court Mirpur, who awarded him death sentence under 337-A/1 to 6, 3/EXPA, 302/427 and 324/APC. His appeal is pending in Supreme Court/Shrea Court AJK Mirpur Bench since 2015.
India appears to have been emboldened after International Court of Justice stayed the death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadev till announcement of its verdict. In the past, Pakistan has been releasing Indian spies and receiving dead bodies of Pakistani prisoners – an inequitable swap of prisoners. One should recall that Kashmir Singh, who was freed from Pakistani jail after 35 years had admitted that he was an Indian spy and did his best to serve the country. “After my arrest in 1974, the successive governments did nothing for my family. I did the duty assigned to me as a spy, but the government after my arrest did not bother to spend a single penny for my family,” he told reporters in Chandigarh. Anyhow, he was freed after the pardon granted by the then president Pervez Musharraf and returned to India where he was given a hero’s welcome.
Another Indian spy Surjeet Singh was released in 2012 after spending more than 30 years in jail in Pakistan for spying. He was greeted at the Wagah border crossing by his son and other family members and well-wishers. Surjeet Singh admitted to reporters: “I had gone there for spying.” Another spy Gopal Das was released in April 2011 after 27 years in jail in Pakistan. On his return, he admitted to spying. Of course, he was released in March 2008 after completing his life term. In June 2008, Pakistan had received two dead bodies one of Rasheeda Bibi age 70 who was languishing in Indian Amritsar jail for two years, and the other one of Abdul Aleem 20 years old. Rasheeda Bibi had migrated to Pakistan from Saharanpur in 1947 and had visited India more than once to meet her kith and kin. This time she was accompanied by her two daughters.
On the whole, the plight of inmates of Indian jails is hopeless, yet India’s act of sending coffins in exchange of Indians in Pakistani jails who were not only very much alive but also hale and hearty. Release of Kashmir Singh, an Indian spy, and the way he was sent across Wagah border with protocol is a case in point. When Pakistan and India were working on release of innocent prisoners on both sides, the number of Pakistanis that died in Indian jails became five; their names were: Khalid Mehmood, Jamil Qureshi, Mohammad Akram, Abdul Aleem and Rasheedan Bibi. Death of Mohammad Afzal another Pakistani as a result of torture in jail showed the manner in which Pakistani prisoners were being treated in Indian jails. As usual, Pakistan’s foreign office did not strongly take up matter of inhuman treatment to Pakistanis with Indian government.
Reportedly, Pakistan’s Foreign Office had said that it was out of fear that it might spoil the atmosphere in the then ongoing composite dialogue. If that was the case it was a flawed perception because composite dialogue was being held to address festering issues like Kashmir, Sir Creek, rivers water and cases of prisoners with a view to improving the relations. Hence, it would have been appropriate if the matter was taken up with the Indian government. It is true that the plight of inmates in Indian prisons is terrible, but deaths of Pakistani prisoners reflect deep-rooted hatred, carelessness or enmity, which should not have been the case when people of both countries wanted to live in peace. There is no denying that with 1.2 bn population, India is a big market for the US, the West and other countries of the world. They therefore turn a blind eye to India’s egregious record of human rights violations.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
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