As if Pakistan’s ambassador to India doesn’t have enough challenges to deal with — from Kashmir tensions to the trial of militants involved in the Mumbai attacks to improving trade relations – now another tricky issue has emerged, and it comes in the unlikely form of a monkey named Bob.
Bob, or to use his full name, Bobby, was reportedly “arrested” last week after straying into Pakistan from India. Bobby, astonishingly, hadn’t even bothered to submit the necessary visa paperwork before his little cross-border trip, and now he’s paying a heavy price for presuming that, as an animal, he was free to wander hither and thither however he chose. This lax approach to admin does little to dispel the stereotype that monkeys are irresponsible, or “cheeky.”
At least now, as he sits incarcerated in Bahawalpur Zoo in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Bobby has time to reflect on the errors of his ways, perhaps as he bounces a baseball off the wall of his cell, à la Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape,” though of course, being Indian, he’d have a cricket ball.
Fortunately for the shackled simian, his plight hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations has written a letter to Shahid Malik, Pakistan’s ambassador to India, requesting that the monkey be released back into the wild.
“On behalf of all our member organizations and thousands of supporters we urge you to kindly rehabilitate any trespassing animals in their natural environment and not in the pitiable prisons-zoo,” the letter said, adding “We really hope that you will consider our request and look [into] this issue beyond human territories defined and marked by Humans.”
FIAPO, which describes itself as India’s largest umbrella body of organizations concerned with the protection and welfare of all animals, also put out a press release on the monkey matter, in which Arpan Sharma, the organization’s convenor, said: “We hope that the authorities will do the needful. Let the monkey be a messenger of peace & freedom and not of captivity & confinement.”
A press official at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi said he was unaware of FIAPO’s letter. Later, after India Real Time forwarded a copy of the letter to the High Commission, spokesman Khalid Sarwar said the matter is being conveyed to the department of the Pakistan government that deals with animal protection issues.
Hopefully that department won’t be sidetracked by the unconfirmed reports that a flock of birds has just drifted into Pakistani airspace and a trout has been spotted in the Indus River heading straight for the border.
It’s not a one-way street when it comes to these wildlife arrests, if you can call catching an animal “an arrest.” India also, according to reports, took a pigeon into custody last year on suspicion of spying.The pigeon was placed under armed guard and visitors, of course, were strictly forbidden.