The breaking news Tuesday midnight gave India a jolt, as Pakistan made a complete U-turn by announcing that it was freeing Surjeet Singh and not Sarabjit Singh as reported earlier. The Pakistani Presidential spokesperson clarified that the authorities were planning to release the three-decade-old prisoner Surjeet Singh and not death row convict Sarabjit. Surjeet had been languishing in the same Kot Lakhpat jail as Sarabjit in Lahore. Unfortunately, just when Sarabjit thought he would see the light of the day at home, his hopes were dashed. But how could such false news be flashed in the first place? Were games being played?
It’s a golden rule of waging a war - deflect your enemy’s attention and then play the actual move.
It seems that Pakistan is following the same course of action. Soon after the arrest of Abu Jundal, the key handler of the terrible Mumbai terror attacks by the Delhi Police after he was deported from Saudi Arabia, the Pakistani government an
nounced that it would release Sarabjit Singh after 22 long years in jail. Reports had said that President Asif Ali Zardari had commuted Sarabjit’s death sentence to life term. However, the entire sequence of events turned out to be a big faux pas!
The long-awaited release of Surjeet or Sarabjit is definitely welcome, but why did this decision come at such a delicate juncture? Is Pakistan playing the game of hide-and-seek? Perhaps, Pakistan is using this release to deflect attention from the damning revelations made by 26/11 handler Abu Jundal… who knows?
A humane aspect of this release could just be a swap deal. India recently released Pakistani virologist Khalil Chishti, who was convicted of involvement in the murder of a man in Ajmer in 1992, on express orders by the Supreme Court. The court had announced his release during the religious visit of Zardari to India. So, maybe Pakistan is showing its large heartedness by releasing an ‘Indian’
But while keeping in mind the bitter Indo-Pak relation it seems that there is no place for emotions between both the countries. If various news sources are to be believed the other reason of Pakistan’s ‘U’ turn could be the pressure from various militant outfits hiding in Pakistan like Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jamaat-ud Dawa who condemned Pak’s move to free Sarabjit.
As we know now that Abu Jundal was instructed by ISI officials; he is one of the six handlers who guided the 10 terrorists during the Mumbai attacks; the 26/11 control room was set up near Karachi; and Ajmal Kasab (the lone Mumbai attack terrorist caught alive) has already identified the voice in the conversations intercepted by Indian intelligence agencies during the attack to be of Abu Jundal. The dossiers sent by India to Pakistan (in which suspects were listed) also included Abu Jundal’s name. Abu was heard telling the terrorists to shoot the hostages behind their heads. He has also spilled the beans on Pakistan’s involvement in the heinous Mumbai terror attack.
Pakistan is further exposed as during interrogation the LeT operative, Abu Jundal confessed his role in the Mumbai terror attack and also admitted that he was present in the LeT control room in Karachi and was giving direction to the 10 terrorists who carried out the strike. Since the terror plot was hatched on the Pakistani soil, it becomes more of Pakistan’s prerogative to come out clean rather than just wasting time in ‘tarikh-par-tarikh’ (procedural escape).
So now after Indian authorities have interrogated Jundal and the voice spectrograph is also positive, will Pakistan be able to turn down the evidence and take recourse to another procedural delay?
Being an Indian citizen, recalling the dreadful times of 26/11 and the days that followed it is heart wrenching. Also, while thinking of the great sacrifices made by the martyrs of the Indian Army, the NSG, the Mumbai Police and others (like Vijay Salaskar, Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Sandeep Unnikrishnan & many more), it becomes extremely difficult to sit and silently watch Pakistan’s antics.
The Pakistani government is simply wasting time and if someone does not want to take action, then keeping faith in law and justice just becomes difficult.
News reports also claimed that Pakistan tried its utmost to persuade the Saudis not to hand over Jundal to India, as he could spill the beans on Pak ‘state actors’ involved in 26/11 attacks.
An extremely well trained and dangerous terrorist Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal spent lot of time working under the nose of policemen right in the Beed district, according to news reports. The key handler of the Mumbai attacks was right in front of the policemen’s eyes who failed to gauge the intentions of the man. But today, when we have the same person in the clutches of the law, Pakistan is in a denial mode. This way India will never be able to prosecute Jundal. He will also eat into tax payers’ money and enjoy ‘hospitality’ of India like Ajmal Kasab.
Jundal’s confessions have put Pakistan in bigger trouble and this is why it is trying to turn the attention on something different. The 26/11 handler gave a deep insight into the situation at 'Karachi control room' monitoring the Mumbai attack. Jundal also disclosed that officials of Pakistani intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) ran the control room along with senior Lashkar commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. During the interrogations, the LeT handler also admitted that ISI destroyed 26/11 control room in Karachi after the arrest of Lakhvi from PoK.
For sure the lid which Pakistan has managed to keep for all these years faces the threat of being lifted. The nabbed LeT operative is a can of information; if exposed it will bring out all the dirt on Pakistan.
While reiterating what India has been maintaining all along, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said, “The confession of Jundal, who played a key role in the 26/11 control room in Karachi, has established beyond doubt that there was support of Pakistani state actors in the Mumbai terror attacks.”
The crux of the entire matter is: 26/11 attacks can’t be forgotten so easily. Now India has greater evidence to put pressure on Pakistan and it should go all out and use Jundal’s evidence to force an admission from Pakistan on 26/11 attacks. The Government of India has to redouble its efforts so that Pakistan takes stern action against the perpetrators of such terror acts from its soil.
The terror outfits sitting in Pakistan are also doing no good to its image internationally. After the hideout of Osama was busted inside Pakistan, the world has been looking at it suspiciously. There is no time left now. Improvement and modernisation of the internal security of every state of India has to be taken care of so that moles like Abu Jundal do not get a chance to exploit us.
And for Pakistan, why can’t it simply accept the truth and punish the guilty if it really wants to have peaceful relations with India as it keeps telling at every bilateral meeting? Or is it that Pakistan just wants to keep the topic alive to carry forward its decades’ long animosity which has benefited none? The least itself.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)