A Pakistani policemen I came across yesterday greeted me in his customary colloquial Punjabi and then followed it up with “baon zulam hoeya hai jee” (a heinous crime has been committed).
For a split second i was shocked but soon realised he said that in reaction to the death in a Pakistani hospital of Indian prisoner Sarabjeet Singh early this morning.
He went on to say how ordinary people like himself and I were mere pawns in games politicians played and that is exactly what Sarabjeet Singh was caught in.
Having been in jail for more than two decades after being convicted of “terrorism”, Sarabjeet Singh was reportedly bludgeoned by fellow prisoners.
The policeman’s reaction was not unusual – it is a fact people on both sides of the border are extremely friendly towards one another – particularly when the Indians are turbaned Sikhs like myself.
It is the wily and scheming politicians on both sides who maneuver things to suit their own nefarious interests – be it Asif Ali Zardari or Sonia Gandhi.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind there is more to Sarabjeet’s death than meets the eye – elections are round the corner in Pakistan and Indians will also go to the polls soon.
Is it then no surprise politicians on the Indian side have jumped on to the bandwagon in trying their best, with the help of an ever-obliging media, to gain mileage out of this sad incident.
People of both nations are being dragged into the mêlée by these schemers. It would be wise to stay a safe distance away and not fall into the trap.
On this note, I cannot but say I have had some extremely pleasant experiences here in Bahrain with very fine people from the other side, having been very warmly welcomed into the Pakistani embassy – more than I have ever been in my own – on visiting to cover a news story.
I also have never failed to elicit a ‘salaam’ and “key haal hai mitra” (how are you dear friend) from Pakistanis who see me at any time.
I will also never forget the joy on the faces of Karachi airport staff at the VIP lounge when they saw a “mittar” (close friend) among VIP passengers during a refuelling stop for the Bahrain Royal Flight on my return from Kochi a month ago.
That spirit should always flourish. If only the politicians stop their “zulam” (crime), that is!