The Sarabjit Singh/Sanaullah Haq entanglement brought out one fact: Indians are bigger nationalists than us. Take the case of the Sarabjit Singh; Indian civil society, politicians and military men reacted furiously on his death with one voice. Their outrage was visible in both print and electronic media. Following the return of Sarabjit’s mortal remains to his homeland, Indian officials admitted that Sarabjit Singh was a RAW agent who infiltrated into Pakistan to commit terrorist attacks against innocent Pakistanis. The convict himself confessed his involvement in terrorist bomb attacks in Pakistan that killed 14 persons and injured many. He was a proven terrorist sponsored by Indian state institutions and convicted by the apex court of Pakistan. To honour its fallen “hero”, the Indian Government declared state funeral for Sarabjit Singh and awarded him gun salute for his bravery in line with the national cause and announced cash awards for his family. Although Sarabjit Singh’s demise was caused by a jail brawl, which is a common feature in jails all over the world, yet his death was avenged by carefully targeting a Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Rana, who was fatally beaten to death by an Indian jail inmate, who was reportedly armed for the heinous crime by RAW.

Indian media campaign and political response was all-encompassing and unified. The sad part is that when it comes to nationalism, many apologists in Pakistan also jump on the bandwagon, bending over backwards to support the Indian theme. Good neighbourliness is one thing but national interests come first. Perhaps they should pick out a leaf from the Indian book, which they try to emulate but forget the scarlet thread that the country and national interests come first.

The pseudo human rights activists perhaps have no idea of Indian atrocities against Kashmiris, inhuman treatment of Pakistani prisoners, Indian acts of water terrorism, Samjhota Express episode and fostering insurgency in Balochistan. Let us remember some other Pakistanis like killing of Abdul Aleem and Qateel that were tortured by Indians and returned to Pakistan during past decade with no reaction from certain benign political leaders as well as media tycoons, who otherwise harp on the theme of nationalism. Such personalities are reluctant to portray national esteem for the sake of Confidence Building Measures with India.

During a recent interview in a program "Devil's Advocate" on GNN-IBN to Karan Thapar, Mian Nawaz Sharif had a discourse on every subject concerning India without having any regard to stated national policies and in his exuberance towards portraying himself as a peacenik, forgot to mention about state terrorism sponsored by India against Pakistan through their agents like Sarabjit Singh. He did not utter a word on the cold blooded murder of Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah in Indian jail and nary a thought on the core issue of Kashmir. The same obliviousness to terror mongering by India was displayed by a media don, who dabbles with politics in interim governments.

Nationalism has been defined as loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, who ably led his nation in a civil war to abolish slavery, in his second Presidential address, declared: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan...”

Statesmen are those who seize the opportunity to lead the nation in its moment of crisis. The people of Pakistan are reeling from a twelve-year exposure to the war on terror. The sacrifice of forty thousand Pakistanis is a heavy toll. Nearly every Pakistani family has suffered a loss, either through the attack by the terrorists in atrocious attacks on civilian targets or through members of the armed forces of Pakistan, boldly facing the enemy in a war to eradicate terrorism. The true leader would condemn those responsible for the odious attacks and not display insensitivity to nationalism. Following the general elections, it is becoming evident that Mian Nawaz Sharif may assume the mantle of Prime Minister. It is hoped that he would place national interests before whims and the urge to play to the gallery.

The writer is a former group captain of PAF, who also served as air and naval attaché at Riyadh. Currently, he is a columnist, analyst and host of programme Defence and Diplomacy

    on PTV.