Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
IT is the conduct that builds a good or bad international image of a nation. Despite its utmost attempt at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to divert the global attention vis-à-vis Indian espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan and across the region, India remained unsuccessful in washing out the impression that her naval commander Kulbushan Jadhav, a state-sponsored spy and terrorist, did not commit notorious crimes in Pakistan. Since the ICJ rejected Indian plea for Jadhav’s acquittal, therefore, instead of making subjective and polarized interpretation of the July 17th verdict of the ICJ regarding the Indian accused spy and terrorist Jadhav, New Delhi should objectively learn the lesson from the ICJ ruling by paying attention in terms of its international legal obligations vis-à-vis international morality being deterred via RAW’s espionage and terrorist operations; improving its human rights policies towards the Indian minorities, particularly towards the Kashmiris; and most significantly, realigning its positive approach towards Indus Water Treaty obligations.
The ICJ on July 17 rejected India’s plea for the acquittal of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian navy official, a terrorist-cum-spy who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court after his capture and trial, ruling that Jadhav be allowed consular access immediately and asking Pakistan to ensure “effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences”. Calling it a “clear case of Indian state terrorism”, Pakistan’s Foreign Office in a statement reiterated that Jadhav was a spy, adding that they would proceed “as per law”. Firstly, Indian terrorist and espionage network: Veritably, India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has, time and again, faced undeniable allegations of meddling with the internal affairs of its neighbouring states. According to an estimate by the US-based Federation of American Scientists suggests that in 2000, RAW had about eight to ten thousand agents and a budget that experts place at $145 million.
Unlike the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or Britain’s MI6, RAW reports directly to the Prime Minister instead of the Ministry of Defence. The chief of RAW is designated Secretary (Research) in the Cabinet Secretariat, which is part of the Prime Minister’s office. Some officers of RAW are members of a specialized service, the Research and Analysis Service, but several officers also serve on deputation from other Services such as the Indian Police Service. There has been an organic link between a Pakistani agent who ran a mafia organization in the country’s largest city, Karachi, has confessed to having links with Jadhav. It is to be noted that a retired Pakistani Army officer, who was allegedly part of the team that captured Jadhav, was picked up by Indian intelligence agencies near Nepal’s border with India. Calling it a “clear case of Indian state terrorism”, Pakistan’s Foreign Office in a statement reiterated that Jadhav was a spy, adding that they would proceed “as per law”. Recently, Pakistan intelligence agencies unearthed another Terrorist RAW’s network in Gilgit-Baltistan known as the Balawaristan National Front (BNF). According to sources, it is the RAW which mentored the BNF-H to brainwash young students in G-B universities through anti-Pakistan propaganda and slogans. The group’s kingpin, Abdul Hameed Khan, also remains a mastermind behind terrorist attacks in the region.
Secondly, Indian policies with regard to human rights: In 2018 the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) harassed and at times prosecuted activists, lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists for criticizing authorities. Rather, the draconian sedition and counter-terrorism laws were used to chill free expression while foreign funding regulations were used to target non-governmental organizations (NGOs) critical of government actions or policies. The Modi Government failed to address the issue via its credible investigation over the growing mob attacks on religious minorities, marginalized communities and critics of the government—often carried out by groups claiming to support the government. At the same time, some senior BJP leaders unwisely and unjustifiably supported perpetrators of such crimes, and also making inflammatory speeches against minority communities and promoting the cult of Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism, which encouraged further violence. Both the United Nations and Amnesty International have accused Indian security forces of using excessive force in the region. The UN has specifically raised concerns about the use of pellet-firing shotguns by Indian security forces between 2016 and 2018, describing it as “one of the most dangerous weapons used against protesters”. The Modi government’s policies have been criticized by secular and liberal groups as divisive and against the interests of minorities. It could be cross-checked keeping in view the severe punishments for slaughtering cows, numerous incidents of vigilantism by extremist Hindu groups, day in and day out attacks on ethnic and religious minorities as well as foreigners. Muslims in India feel totally insecure than ever under PM Modi’s India. Veritably, India’s international image, despite its rapidly growing economy, has been largely controversial.
And thirdly, the Indus Water Treaty: In the post-ICJ verdict phase, the international civil society expects that New Delhi must adopt a friendly and peace-ridden approach towards its neighbours, particularly Pakistan. It must also need to change its refractory approach on the IWT since a fair distribution-cum-consumption of water according to the treaty is also a major state obligation of India because of its being an upper riparian state. In this regard, it seems crucial to balance the ‘’rights and duties’’ of the riparian states and for the holistic and fairly integrated water management system of the Indus river system. Understandably, the discord being generated between the core of the global system and emerging states is assuming a redefined role/character in the 21st Century. The growing importance of alternative projects is being regulated through the role of ideologies and ideological struggle whereby the dignity of human rights has become the most attainable manifesto. And undeniably, the notion of humanitarian peace has become the voice of global diplomacy. In this context, India must peruse such policies in the region that could promote harmony and understanding with its neighbours.
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.