India shy to raise Sarabjit issue at international fora

Published: 03rd May 2013 07:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2013 06:37 PM   |  A+A-


While the country is outraged over  the brutal death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday ruled out raising the issue at any international forum.

 To a query on whether India would raise the matter at an international forum, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: “India and Pakistan are wedded to bilateralism”.

 “We know each other well. We understand each other well and we will continue to follow the pattern that has governed our relationship in the past,” he said.

New Delhi has always remained shy of “internationalising” any major issue in the bilateral ties with Pakistan, worrying that it will attract more international attention to  Kashmir issue.

Even recently, in the case of Saurabh Kalia, whose body was returned with torture marks, India did not raise the matter at any  international forum. Saurabh’s father, N K Kalia, had approached the Supreme Court to instruct the Centre to sue Pakistan at the International Court of Justice.

With no secretary-level meetings between the two countries since last year, the Sarabjit issue may not create a visible impact in the bilateral mechanisms.  India had not scheduled most of the meetings since the beheading of two Indian soldiers on the Line of Control in January.  Officials also point out that Pakistan is currently in election mode, with polls set to be held on May 11.

 According to officials, India had first raised the matter of Sarabjit during the meeting of President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. This was done after the Pakistan Supreme Court upheld Sarabjit’s death sentence in August 2005.

Government officials defended against criticism that India had not told Pakistan to beef up Sarabjit’s security in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail. “When we had concern about the death of Chamel Singh, we had triggered the mechanism of the judicial committee,” said Akbaruddin.

Indian members of the joint judicial committee, which assesses the condition of prisoners, had reached Pakistan on April 26 just hours after Sarabjit was brutally attacked by fellow inmates with bricks and glass shards. The committee members visited Sarabjit earlier this week in hospital. The panel is likely to submit a report on its visit and the circumstances of Sarabji’s death.

 Officials claimed that it was due to India’s insistence that Pakistan had given visas to all the four family members of Sarabjit.


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