On 26/6/2012 around 7 p.m. news broke out that Sarabjit Singh was to be released as Asif Ali Zardari was to commute his death sentence to life which he had already completed as he was in prison for over 14 years he had spent 22 years in jail. Sarabjit Singh was in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. The news was too good to be true. The decision would have been unpopular in Pakistan.
Ansar Burney, Asma Jehangir and Awaiz Sheikh had tried for Sarabjit’s release. After the news broke out some Maulvis demonstrated outside Lahore Press Club against the release.
There were celebrations in Sarabjit Singh’s family. Markandey Katju, who was out of news for a long time, wrote a letter to Asif Ali Zardari thanking him for the pardon.
Something changed during the night. Around 1 a.m. came the news that Surjeet Singh will be released and not Sarabjit Singh. There was miscommunication. Sarabjit Singh’s family members felt it was a cruel joke. Some said it was a diversionary tactic meant to divert attention from the arrest of Abu Jundal wanted in 26/11 case. Surjeet Singh’s family celebrated at unexpected good news.
This is a lesson for TV channels who get into Breaking News quoting sources. Some channels cancel their regular programmes to run such reports without official word from government.
Khalil Chisti got bail and went to Pakistan. Some hoped Pakistan will release Sarabjit. Pakistan released Surjeet. Previously Pakistan had released Gopal Dass and Kashmir Singh. We do not know how many Indians are in Pakistani jails with no one pleading for their release.
On 18/4/2012 Pakistan’s General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani called for resolution of Siachen and other issues. He said the two countries cannot keep spending on defence alone and forget about development. This came after Pakistan’s 127 soldiers and 11 civilians were buried alive by an avalanche on 7/4/2012 and searches are on for them.
Kayani’s statement is welcome but India should not throw caution to the wind. India should not vacate Siachen in a hurry. We know what happened in Kargil. After Kayani’s retirement next General may have different ideas about peace with India. Nawaz Sharif wanted peace with India. Atal Behari Vajpayee took bus to Lahore. A few months later Kargil War happened. Then Pervez Musharraf deposed Nawaz Sharif and sent him to jail.
Pakistan’s relationship with USA has been hostile for some years. Now China is also not happy with Pakistan due to terrorism in Sinkiang. Pakistan does not have many friends. After American helicopters entered Abbottabad, killed Osama Bin Laden and dumped his body into the sea, Pakistanis have questioned their army’s usefulness. After the death of some Pakistani soldiers in an American air raid Pakistan stopped NATO supply routes in Pakistan.
India and Pakistan have made progress in recent years. Asif Ali Zardari’s private visit on 8/4/2012 helped to move things forward. Sometimes USA has played a spoiler in Indo-Pak relations. USA opposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. Days before Zardari’s visit USA announce 10 million dollars bounty on Hafiz Sayeed. Hafiz Sayeed appeared on TV channels and said he was not hiding and if USA gives him 10 million dollars he will tell them of his whereabouts. USA said they knew about his whereabouts, the bounty was for evidence to prosecute him. Strange that USA declares bounty without evidence.
On 15/4/2012 there were attacks on American, British, German and Russian embassies and many other buildings in Afghanistan. Indians were not attacked. The attackers whether Taliban or Haqqani network, operated from Pakistan. They also freed around 380 prisoners in Pakistan.
Will Pakistan agree to vacate Kashmir? It gave some territory to China in 1967. China is in illegal occupation of Indian territory. Gen. J. J. Singh (Retd), Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, said India should give and take to solve border dispute with China. What does he mean? Does he mean India should give up Aksai Chin because it is in Chinese occupation? What will India take from China? China has nothing to give to India. If China claims two parts of India as its own and occupies illegally one part that does not mean India should accept China’s claim in return for China’s recognition of other part that was and is India’s. China claims whole of Arunachal Pradesh and calls it South Tibet. There are some Chinese sympathizers in India who say cartography was not correct when the maps were drawn. India did not have border with China. India had border with Tibet. China annexed Tibet. India should tell China to get out of Tibet. If India accepts Chinese claim on Aksai Chin because China occupies Aksai Chin, India will have to give up its claim on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Trade between India and Pakistan can increase and that can cement peace between two countries. Solving some issues can take a long time.
The death of 24 Pakistani soldiers on 26/11/2011 in NATO air attacks has further deteriorated Pakistan-USA relationship. Pakistan has stopped NATO supplies to Afghanistan through its territory and has asked USA to vacate the Shamsi air base given to it in 15 days. Its army chief has vowed effective response. Pakistan has complained to UN and has decided to skip Bonn Conference on 5/12/2011 on the future of Afghanistan. China and Russia have come in support of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s double game in Afghan War has been clear for years. In recent months Americans have openly mentioned ISI’s role in Afghanistan. ISI has scuttled peace efforts. Afghan Taliban gets support from ISI. Afghan Taliban attacked American Embassy in Kabul and assassinated Burhanuddin Rabbani. Osama Bin Laden was in Abbottabad for six years. Pakistan claimed it was fighting Taliban without mentioning it was fighting Pak Taliban hostile to it and supported Afghan Taliban hostile to Afghanistan.
NATO forces are predominantly American forces. NATO wants to quit Afghanistan by 2014. It is better if they quit Afghanistan before that and leave it to Afghans to solve their problems. Afghans take money from whoever gives them. When Hamid Karzai was asked about getting money from Iran he said they take money from Americans also. Najibullah was betrayed by his people when he could not give them money. He took shelter in UN compound. When Taliban attacked UN compound and hanged Najibullah UN did nothing. USA and other NATO forces were quiet. Economy is the problem in USA and Europe. Let NATO countries spend their money to solve their people’s problems.
India should remain neutral in this hostility between USA and Pakistan. India has nothing to gain by taking any side. Pakistan has abetted terrorism against India. When India was the victim USA was not on India’s side.
If the army takes over Pakistan there should be sanctions against Pakistan. If China and Russia veto such a proposal in UN, other countries can impose sanctions on their own.