All through yesterday, we witnessed political parties literally stepping over each other, to take advantage of OR to contain the tricky situation created after Sarabjit Singh’s Death. The Akali Dal government in Punjab declared three day state mourning in respect of Sarabjit. The party which is known for upper caste Sikh nationalism, took no time to award Sarabjit Singh the status of a martyr (‘Shaheed’).
A day before yesterday, discomforted by BJP’s criticism (who demanded martyr status for Sarabjit) and fearful of its own Anti-Sikh image (courtesy the 1984 Sikh riots) , the country’s PM Dr. Manmohan Singh called Sarabjit Singh the ‘son of the Soil’.
Government Must have handled Sarabjit Singh’s Killing Better:
The moment your internal political dynamics and the fear of opposition begins deciding your diplomacy, you should worry.
This exactly happened in the last two days.
The Government seemed so overwhelmed by the opposition BJP’s criticism and its own insecurities (read 1984 Sikh riots) that it forgot how a decent democracy like India should act at such crucial times. To come to point: When Indian Government made statements like “Son of Soil” and “anything else which made a martyr out of Sarabjit Singh”; it looked no different from Pakistan (with not so perfect democracy). Sarabjit Singh, who was convicted of bombings by Pakistan’s Apex Court; must had been seen in a similar manner India sees those terrorists awarded death penalty by India’s Supreme Court. In diplomacy, if you don’t respect the decision of the other country’s judicial system; you don’t present a good picture of yourself across world.
This doesn’t mean, India shouldn’t have tried to prove Sarabjit Singh innocent OR tried to bring Sarabjit Singh home. If Italy can put pressure on Indian Government for its two sailors who killed two Indians in Indian waters (it’s believed so); why couldn’t India put diplomatic pressure on Pakistan for Sarabjit Singh. But both BJP (during its tenure) and Congress never exercised that control.
That said, in the manner in which the key political parties, and most importantly the Government, handled the Sarabjit Singh’s killings; made India look like some weak democracy. Where people’s sentiments and vote banks seemed to be dictating India’s foreign policy.
What would have been the right step?
Not taking any haste actions. The government had managed to bring home Sarabjit Singh’s Body, for that it should have been credited. A combined all party press meet had been organised, promising the country the right action. BJP should have supported the Government’s stand (instead of seeing votes in any situation). The right action must have been: To take to international forums, the inhuman treatment meted out by an Indian prisoner in a Pakistan Jail.
Now that, Indian Government has already handled Sarabjit Singh’s killing shabbily; India will not be able to put its case adequately on International platforms. Reasons? Every time India will raise the issue, the international media will ask — if Pakistan has no faith in Indian democracy and judiciary…Do you have in hers?