Usually when a spy is caught or when his cover is blown, the country he belongs to tends to deny any link. That is how spies generally fare. Surjeet Singh who spent 27 years in a jail cell in Pakistan was meted out just the same response by his government back home. His challenge to his own RAW to spill the beans before a court of law hence might seem an expression of his pent-up feelings for being incarcerated that long.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik has meanwhile asked India to apologise for sending him over for espionage. This seems more of an attempt to counter the constant barrage of allegations and demands from New Delhithe main purpose of which is to demonise Pakistan. Indian clamours for instance to hand over the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks have only grown more agonising. The motif that a lie should be blared out so often that the listeners actually start believing in it will not help bridge the trust deficit. Mr Malik has also held non-state actors from India responsible for disturbing Karachi’s peace. Though the parliament has been informed through in-camera briefings about such foreign elements, the difference this time around is that he has said it publicly. It is hence logical to present India with evidence of involvement of such non-state actors. Of course, one of the reasons for initiating the talks is that such issues are discussed and resolved rather than letting fiery tempers make matter worse. In our case, a prominent oddity of the bilateral relationship is that mutual recriminations go hand in hand with the dialogue process. The impression that these parleys are held to the wish of the political leadership or that there is a genuine desire for peace is negated by the mudslinging that ensues soon afterwards. This is to undo the goodwill that these talks generate, sometimes even shattering hopes of a breakthrough.
Rehman Malik’s demand for an apology could be akin to the shadow boxing that India is more adept at since it has been repeating as far-fetched a charge that Mumbai attack was stage-managed from a Karachi control room. In view of the whirlpool threatening to devour South Asia, caution and diplomacy must take precedence over irate emotions. The scourge of militancy did not grow overnight or because of one particular factor; it has its roots in the discontentment brewing in Afghanistan and tribal areas but equally in the Occupied Valley whose conflagration has often times spread to the Indian mainland.
For both the countries to get out of this constant state of hostility, requires leaders willing to consider each others’ perspective. Whether Surjeet was a saboteur or not, what he and others of his ilk have become symptomatic of is the phantom that keeps the two countries tilting at the windmills.