Will Afzal's execution set a trend of tit-for-tat justice?

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Bangalore, Feb 11: After India deciding to hang Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru within a span of three months, will Pakistan respond by hanging Sarabjit Singh, the 'Indian terrorist and killer of 14 innocent Pakistanis'? According to a report published in Pakistan's The News International on Sunday, 'the apologetic rulers in Pakistan continue to please India by delaying the hanging of ... Sarabjit Singh'.

It is said that Sarabjit Singh alias Manjeet Singh, whom New Delhi describes as a victim of mistaken identity, had confessed in 1990 that he was paid Rs 36,000 by the RAW, India's intelligence agency, to carry out multiple terror attacks in Lahore and Islamabad. Singh was convicted by Pakistani authorities and was given a death sentence in 1991 but his execution has been repeatedly postponed. Singh, the report said, had exhausted all available remedies to challenge the death penalty and also confessed that he was an Indian spy who was hired by the RAW to carry out the terror acts.

It was said that Islamabad was sitting on the mercy petition of Singh for quite sometime now and reportedly considered granting of clemency which would allow him to return to India as a hero. The Pakistani report rued that convicted criminals like Kashmir Singh had already been sent to India but yet the latter continued to spread hatred against Pakistan.

The Pakistani media point of view is giving birth to a concern: Will over-politicising of execution set up a worrying trend in the subcontinent? The concern is big not only because the tit-for-tat policy will put human rights issues in a great quandary, but because it will seriously hamper the people-to-people relation between the two countries. It is worrying for people-to-people relation plays a vital role in the peace process and sacrificing individuals for political convenience can leave a negative impact in the community on both sides of the border.

The anxiety that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has raised after the execution of Guru is not out of place. The Indian state put the situation in Kashmir at stake by hanging Guru and the younger generation of the disturbed state can identify themselves with the man easily. This can fuel a renewed upheaval in the post-Maqbool Batt days. Elections will come and governments will change, but who will take responsibility if more innocent lives are lost in the valley as a repercussion of the 'political elimination'?

The same can happen in Punjab if Sarabjit Singh is executed in Pakistan tomorrow. There is bound to be reaction and counter-reactions in his community and the cycle of evil will make the situation more murkier on the ground. There will be little difference in spirit of the terrorists who kill ordinary people to justify their indoctrinated minds and that of the governments if the trend of political hanging is made a regular affair. Reason won't influence the chain reaction.

Why won't these decisions be made in a politically neutral manner? Why will a democratic state selectively carry out execution and make a justice a political commodity to corner adversaries, both at home and abroad? Why won't there be a time limit for carrying out the decision if indeed it has been made?

The twin executions might have earned the Indian establishment some instant applause but they have the potential to make a long-term impact. And that impact won't be a happy one.

OneIndia News

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