‘Why did it take 18 hours for Krishna to speak on the issue?’

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday faulted the UPA government for failing to adopt an “aggressive and offensive” attitude towards Pakistan to ensure the release of Indian national Sarabjit Singh, who has been languishing in a Pakistani jail for more than two decades.

“There were reports on Tuesday night quoting the Pakistani media that Sarabjit Singh has been released. People here were in a celebratory mood but in a strange turn of events, it was reported that it was Surjeet Singh [another Indian] who was being released. How did Sarabjit of the night before become Surjeet in the morning?” BJP spokesperson J. P. Nadda asked at a press conference here.

“Not aggressive”

Mr. Nadda said the External Affairs Ministry was not being “aggressive and offensive” enough in dealing with such an “emotional” issue with Pakistan.

“This is a sensitive and emotional issue. People want to know why the office of Pakistan President Asif Zardari took nearly five long hours to deny that Sarabjit was being released. And why did our External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna take 18 hours to speak on the issue?

The main Opposition asked the government to clarify whether it was Sarabjit who was to be freed but there was a sudden change of plan and Surjeet’s name came up. “Does it have anything to do with the deportation of 26/11 terror attack handler Abu Jindal from Saudi Arabia to New Delhi? The government must come clean on the entire episode.”

The government should persuade Islamabad to get Sarabjit’s death sentence commuted to life term, Mr. Nadda said.

Blame game on Adarsh

Referring to the deposition by Union Ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde and Vilasrao Deshmukh before the Adarsh judicial commission, he said the two, who were also former Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, were indulging in a “blame game.” He accused the Congress of encouraging corruption and demanded that the Ministers be dismissed from the Cabinet by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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