The brouhaha over the return of Surjeet Singh, on June 28 this year, has once again served to underscore the issue of spies being relentlessly pushed into Pakistan by the Indian agencies, through controlled gates of the formidable fence, erected by India along its entire border with Pakistan and in Kashmir.

Surjeet returned to his native village Phidde in Ferozepur District after 31 years of jail and has rekindled the issue of Indian spies caught in Pakistan. Before him, spies Gopal Das and Kashmir Singh found themselves in the focus of media attention; Gopal Das was released in April 2011 after 27 years in jail while Kashmir Singh, sentenced to death like Surjeet, was released in March 2008 after serving a 35-year long term. The latest episode has brought into renewed focus the fate of another Indian spy, Sarabjeet Singh, who has spent more than 21 years on a death row after being convicted of spying and launching bomb attacks in Pakistan in which scores of people were killed in Lahore and its surroundings. Incidentally a pardon for him is on top of the ‘to do list’ of the new Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, on obvious recommendations of the Foreign Office-Intelligence establishment combine.

While the Indian government wants nothing to do with the subject of spies inundating Pakistan, the returning individuals openly admitted that they were spies and went on to claim compensation for their sacrifices and the services rendered for the Indian government. Surjeet Singh, while talking to the media, candidly admitted that he had crossed over into Pakistan on a number of occasions and was a spy hired by RAW. His admissions have been rejected by the Indian Home Secretary, Raj Kumar Singh, who has dutifully parroted out the official Indian stance that the country was not pushing spies into Pakistan; confronting his compatriots with the dilemma of either believing him or the person who had spent over three decades of his life behind bars in Pakistani jails.

Surjeet’s repatriation has provided impetus for the ongoing Indian efforts to demand the return of Sarabjeet Singh for the practical reason of sustaining the morale of its hordes of spies inhabiting the border villages of Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts who are furious over the inaction of the Indian government to own them up once caught in Pakistan. Responding to Surjeet Singh’s release, the Indian External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna, said that the government “welcomed” the repatriation, but it was now “time for Sarabjeet to be freed.”

While articulating such hopes, the Indian Minister seemed to sidestep the issue that Sarabjeet was held in Pakistan not simply for espionage, but for committing acts of terrorism during the early 90s when even the Indians had yet to coin up the terminology of the “cross border terrorism”; a mantra that after 9/11 embodies the Indian refusal to pursue serious diplomatic negotiations with Pakistan.

The highly publicised case of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national and RAW agent, who has been awarded death sentence by Pakistani courts for conducting a string of blasts inside Pakistan during 1989-90, eloquently serves to highlight India’s state-sponsored terrorism directed at Pakistan. Ever since his conviction for killing scores of civilians, including women and children, the entire spectrum of Indian officialdom and media is up in arms, campaigning for his pardon by the President of Pakistan.

As Surjeet contemplated his keenly anticipated walk across the Wagah Border, one couldn’t surf the Indian channels without coming across an intense “free Sarabjit campaign”, which is based on a case of “mistaken identity” and on threats by Singh’s family that they would hang themselves in case the verdict of the Pakistani court was carried out. What this well orchestrated campaign effectively overlooks is the fact that the Indian agencies are saturating Pakistan through a steady influx of spies, who commit acts of terrorism on here.

Here is a proven Indian agent who has committed bomb blasts on Pakistani soil spilling innocent Pakistani blood, yet the Indian government wants him freed. This exposes an engaging paradox; while the Indians do all in the realm of possibility to link Pakistan with the terrorism of all genres on the Indian hinterland, they glibly refuse to accept and discuss the terrorism in Pakistan being perpetrated by their spies and agents. Even the conviction of Sarabjeet Singh by the High Court of Pakistan fails to faze them or their Western supporters to realise that the man awaiting the gallows is an established terrorist, who was sent in by the Indian government to commit acts of terrorism.

As sufficiently indicated by the spy saga, India has exploited the sensitivities of a terror-wary world to the fullest. Jumping on the US-led bandwagon in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, the Indians have quite successfully projected themselves as victims of terrorism at par with the Western world. Their shaping of the propaganda campaign based on this master plan has been imaginative, massive and quite successful. The attack on the Indian Parliament, which followed the terror strikes in the USA by only a margin of three months, was used by the Indian government to launch ‘Operation Parakram’; the largest ever mobilisation of Indian army on the Pakistani borders. It has now become evident that there was no Pakistani connection to this attack and, most likely, it was the handiwork of one of India’s myriad indigenous terrorist outfits.

The Indians, using catchy sound bytes (cross border terrorism, terror infrastructure, terror flow from across the border etc), have managed to project the over two decade-long Kashmiri struggle for freedom as a terrorist activity. Through this ear-deafening tirade what they have successfully managed to shield is the terrorism that is emanating from India to destabilise Pakistan.

The Mumbai Attack of November 2009 has provided a new impetus to the Indian propaganda and imparted dead-weight inertia to its delaying tactics to bring the composite dialogue process to a grinding halt. This cleverly contrived subterfuge has effectively established the subject of terrorism as the central theme of Indo-Pak parleys; pushing out discussions on the resolution of Kashmir issue to the ignominy of the unattended and barely noticed sidelines. Terrorism and not Kashmir is in the limelight and for India, in the realm of the thorny bilateral relations, this is an enduring and proud achievement.

  The writer is a freelance columnist.