It was perhaps to create the necessary ambience for the endlessly boorish talks with Pakistan that the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil made a statement justifying the inordinate and inexplicable delay in executing terrorist Muhammad Afzal even after the Supreme Court rejected his review petition twice.
Now Patil says that if Afzal is hanged then India cannot ask Pakistan to free Sarabjit Singh. We are sure Sarabjit had never bargained for this. It is crude and cruel on that innocent Indian.
Does that mean that if Sarabjit Singh is released Afzal also will be pardoned and released? There is no doubt about the nationality of Sarabjit. He is an Indian. But there is great doubt about his involvement in any crime. He has pleaded innocence and India has no information of any conspiracy that Sarabjit was involved in Pakistan. Only on some flimsy accusations in the involvement of a blast in Pakistan Sarabjit is being prosecuted. And to equate the Pakistani judicial system under a military dictator with India'sfree judiciary is a grave injustice.
The Pakistani Minister trying for Sarabjit'srelease has said that there is no clinching evidence against Sarabjit. In this background, Patil'scomparison of Sarabjit with Afzal is an insult to the former and in essence to all Indians.
Does Patil believe that Afzal is innocent? No Indian believes so. He owes it to the nation to prove that Afzal is innocent. Afzal has himself on a number of occasions admitted to his faith in terrorism, jehad and his treason. He had initially refused to plead for mercy, because of his total rejection of the Indian system of justice. That however does not make him a Pakistani. If Patil'sargument is taken seriously then Afzal is a Pakistani. Otherwise what is the logic of equating the Pakistani response on Sarabjit with that of hanging Afzal? Does Patil believe that Pakistan has a stake in securing Afzal'ssafety? And by that logic does Pakistan have a hand in the terrorist attack on Parliament?
On record Pakistan has condemned the Parliament attack and had promised every help in booking the culprits and their punishment. The Parliament attack in December 2001 also resulted in the killings of nine innocent security personnel and their families are demanding justice. As the mastermind of this heinous crime Afzal does not deserve mercy. He has waged a war against the nation and tried to defile the temple of Indian democracy. He cannot be pardoned unless somebody at the helm believes that India is a soft banana republic waiting to be Balkanized and that it has no moral authority or free and fair system of jurisprudence.
To accept it all will be like buying Afzal'sargument. And Shivraj Patil is a shame on India. He has proved himself to be the weakest, most inept and most undeserving for the post he is holding. He has also demonstrated that he is irresponsible and that he is not in sync with the great idea of India and that he has no sense of the country'snationalist moorings.
The futile rounds of talks the UPA government is holding with Pakistan in the most unlikely of times?in the wake of the Jaipur terror attacks, unprovoked Pakistani firings on Indian Jawans killing at least two, a fortnight of terrorist mayhem in Jammu and Kashmir and the Pakistani army'sofficial announcement that it is depoliticised but will fight for Kashmir?can only be defined as Dr Manmohan Singh'sout of the box diplomacy where kowtowing before terror seems to be the fundamental aspect. Shivraj Patil has foolishly exposed the contours of this dialogue by bringing in the Afzal factor. It is a dialogue of the deaf, as one daily editorially commented.