ICJ staying the death sentence in indecent haste of Kalbushan Yadav, a serving Indian Naval Officer arrested in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province carrying another fake passport with a Muslim name of Mubarak Husain Patel, without ascertaining whether the accused was entitled to relief on humanitarian grounds as an ordinary citizen arrested crossing over by default, or operating terror, espionage and destabilizing missions in another country by design under official patronage, amounts to un-pliable reasoning if not blatant premeditated miscarriage of justice. In any case, there was neither the urgency nor imminent threat of execution against which the convict still has several opportunities left to defend himself i.e. appeal to the Army Chief, the courts of law in the eountry and ultimately the President of Pakistan for clemency. The stay is also surprising despite a clear declaration by the Jury that India was unable to convince the Court over merits of its case.
Even though no material damage has been done to Pakistan’s case nor can any ICJ ruling overturn the death penalty under the law of the land, it is not Pakistan but the International Court of Justice whose credibility as a neutral tender is on the line. Pakistan in sheer respect for the August Body has and will argue its case to its logical end and assist the Court over which propriety not expediency in the name of justice should prevail, remembering that Pakistan like several countries in the past has the ultimate option of disregarding any injudicious ICJ ruling. India to the contrary has not assisted but sought to mislead and manipulate the ICJ by putting up a pretended petition for its officially assigned saboteur and terrorist.
The Court ought to take cognizance of the fact that Kalbushan who had not only been caught with another impersonating passport and confessed his terror campaigns and crimes at two different occasions, but also revealed his connections and Indian RAW sponsored Operations, leading to vital arrests and busting of his handlers in Karachi and Baluchistan. The relaxed, smiling and grinning body language of the dangerous terrorist while making confessions, whose hands were smeared with the blood of countless Pakistanis ruled out the Indian stance that confessions were extracted under any duress.
The criminal was tried and sentenced by a military court under the Pakistan Army Act authorised by Parliament in Pakistan. The trial was conducted under due process of law of the land after the Indian Government which had at first disowned any connections with the culprit, later contending that he was a retired Naval officer now doing business in Iranian port city of Chahbahar, whereas Kalbushan declared that he was on RAW assignment and in active service until 2022.
Pakistan by this time had presented two progressive dossiers to the UN Secretary General and the P-5 Security Council Members besides India about Kalbushan’s activities in Pakistan and his recorded confessions. India not only remained unmoved except demanding Consular access to the terrorist but failed to respond to Pakistani request for assistance in Kalbushan’s case by providing information on the 13 Indian handlers and accomplices who were named by Kalbushan, before any such access could be considered.
It was only then that the mandated trial against the terrorist was carried out by the Army wherein the convict was provided a counsel, to defend himself at State expense by Pakistan, and only then that India started making noise about a man it had initially disowned but later declared as son of its soil and threatened Pakistan of dire consequences if execution was carried out while vowing to do anything to save him. This was India’s tacit admission of sending a State actor (active Armed Service man) into Pakistan for terror and subversion, confounding its noise in world accusing Pakistan of sponsoring non-state actors into India and Kashmir.
The rest being a surprise for the Indians to learn at the regular hearing as to what else Kalbushan admitted or disclosed to Pakistani authorities, India might soon discover to its chagrin as already expressed by some discerning Indian analysts as well as an outspoken former Indian Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju that Kalbushan case referral to the International Court of Justice was a serious Indian mistake. Pakistan must consider the Indian move a blessing in disguise as every word and document submitted to the ICJ would henceforth become public record for world consumption, and has opened up opportunities to expose the true Indian face in destabilizing Pakistan which would otherwise have remained a bilateral matter.
Pakistan must dilate upon and expose the basic Indian intent of diverting from its trampling of human rights, atrocities and repression against minorities particularly Muslims in the face of uprising in Indian occupied Kashmir demanding determination of their future through the UN mandated plebiscite, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; its current eye-sore gathering momentum which it has vowed to sabotage at all costs, and hence infiltration of espionage agents like Kalbushan terror-financing dissidents in Pakistan creating a security situation, and instead blaming Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism which it was itself precipitating from Afghanistan in concert with the Afghan NDS. There is therefore incontrovertible linkage between the situation in Indian-held Kashmir, its frustrations with CPEC, and Kalbushan’s mission and criminal activities.
Any access to the terrorist at any level is fraught with risk of unimaginable security dimensions including that the contact could be carrying some coded messages from the Indian Government for the convict, or conversely carry from him vital strategic or tactical information about Pakistan. An even worse scenario is that in asking for Consular access to Kalbushan who has spilled a lot, the Indians might seek to eliminate him in order to destroy evidence of culpable nature and put it on Pakistan.
Despite open belligerence by India, its civil and military leadership and irresponsible Press, Pakistan has exercised utmost restraint. Its track record instead proves that while India shot down a Pakistan Army aviation aircraft in 1999 flying well within its territory, Pakistan last year let go an Indian submarine sneaking into Pakistani waters around Gwader, and at many occasions returned several individuals and groups as a gesture of goodwill, the latest being Doctor Uzma allowed to return by Pakistani courts under security cover, duly acknowledged by the Indian Information Minister. Pakistan released armed Indian soldiers crossing over the line of control and recognized borders and even proclaimed offenders facing death penalty. But once bitten twice shy, the Pakistan Government cannot commit the folly of letting go any Kalbushan s any longer.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.