Death for Death: Letter to PM Manmohan Singh – by Zulfiqar Ali

Afzal Guru gandhi kabir

Dear Dr. Singh

I remember one of your interviews with Charlie Rose. To one of the questions you answered, “Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come”. I thought I was listening to a philosopher king. I also know you can use poetry even in budget speeches. Your upbringing may have made you know some Jean Valjeans and may be some inspectors Javerts also.

When you again became Prime Minister, I was happy. I thought. Lo! Here he is a Hugo lover. He quotes from Les Miserable. I am sure he must have read the last days of a condemned man. That us what we need now. Peace. Peace in subcontinent. Peace after decades of crazy carnages. We all noticed that both Indus and Ganga-Jumna civilizations were experiencing new spring. It seemed as if recent animosity will be drowned in old rivers of subcontinent. Peace seemed strong. Then one day terrorists attacked Mumbai. More than hundred innocents were killed. Terrorists did what they do. They kill people. It is not justified by any means. No defense for them. Period

Did you do what philosopher king, nay a statesman, is supposed to do? Terrorists wanted peace process shattered. You did that. They did not stop the process. They ‘wanted’ the process be stopped. It was you and your government which did what they wanted. You gave terrorists a veto to stop the peace process whenever they wanted. You in other way told them that it is them and not you or Pakistani nation, who holds the key. It meant that few terrorists’ will of destruction is stronger than the biggest democracy of the world. I think a statesman would have speeded the peace process. It would have given a loud and clear message to terrorists and their helpers that nothing could stop the peace.

Then hanging of Kasaab happened. It did not help anyone except terrorists. It gave terrorists another martyr. It created more difficulties for Surabjit Singh’s release. I have no doubt about Kassab’s guilt. I wrote that. I am against death penalty as was our common love Victor Hugo. And there was another great Indian by the name of Mohandas who said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Wouldn’t then a death for death make the whole world dead?

Now even worse has happened. It was done so that “collective conscience of the nation” could be satisfied. How insulting is that sentence to the Indian nation. The nation which produced Budha, Kabir and Gandhi has collective conscious which is satisfied by hanging? It was said by an honorable Judge. He must be right because he is an honorable judge.

May be you can win the debate with opposition, now. Now you have proved yourself to be more patriotic than them. At least you may have thought that by hanging Afazal Guru, you were also signing the death warrants of an Indian citizen Surabjit Singh. Saving Guru’s may have saved another languid life in Lahore. But then you may have a lost debate in Parliament. It was too high a price to pay just for the sake of two lives. Finance is your specialty. You are trained to weigh the profit and loss of everything. I think this was bad calculation on your behalf.

In the words a Condemned Man.

“They have brought your child” The priest said.

“Oh,” cried I, “my darling child! Let them bring in my idolized child!”

“Mary,” I exclaimed. “My own little Mary!” and I pressed her violently against my breast, which was heaving with sobs.

She uttered a little cry, and then said, “Oh, you hurt me, sir.”


“Listen, Mary, and do you not know me?”. She looked at me with her bright beautiful eyes and answered,-“Oh, no, indeed.”

“Look at me well,” I repeated. “What! Dost thou not know who I am?”

“Yes, sir,” she answered. “You are a gentleman.”

“Mary,” I continued, “hast thou a papa?”

“Yes, sir,” said the child.

“Well, then, dearest, where is he?”

She raised her large eyes in astonishment:–

”Ah, then you don’t know, sir? Papa is dead.”


You are a very busy man. So maybe you have forgotten that. I am sure you can never forget Les Miserable. If you could act like Jean Valjean, at least you could have acted like Inspector Javert. He at least followed the law. He did not do things to satisfy France’s collective conscious.

For Hugo, the time of idea of “no execution” had come 150 years ago. When will your time come?

A Pakistani

Dr. Zulfiqar Ali

Milwaukee, USA.



Latest Comments
  1. zulfi
  2. Amjad Cheema