Kulbhushan meeting and India’s pettiness

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Sultan M Hali

PAKISTAN scored a major diplomatic victory by permitting the family of convicted terrorist and senior RAW operative Indian Navy’s Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet him. The death row convict, who has confessed in front of a judicial magistrate to his being a serving Naval officer and as RAW operative committing heinous crimes of wreaking havoc in Karachi and Balochistan, was sentenced to death after he was tried by a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) earlier this year. His appeal for clemency is awaiting action by the COAS, General Qamar Bajwa. Meanwhile India took Pakistan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, which temporarily stayed his execution but is going to reexamine the case early next year. The ICJ cannot overturn the verdict of the FGCM but can at best ask for a retrial depending on the merit of the case.
Meanwhile, Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) made two requests of Pakistan. Commander Jadhav’s wife and mother are permitted to meet him and consular access be granted to him. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), in a spirit of humanitarian gesture, permitted the convict’s family to visit him. The meeting was organized at the MOFA under mutually accepted ground rules of maintaining the highest standards of security and providing VVIP protocol to the visiting ladies. India tried to dag its feet because it did not want to lose the opportunity of playing the victim card if the meeting took place. Pakistan’s High Commission at New Delhi stamped the visit visas on 20th December and when it saw India dilly dallying, MEA was informed that the window of opportunity was rapidly closing. India finally agreed to the meeting on 25th December.
The meeting apparently took place in a cordial atmosphere. India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Islamabad and a Director level MOFA officer were present during the meeting but were informed that they will not able to hear the conversation between Commander Kulbhoshan Jadhav and his family which was taking place with a glass wall separating them via telephone with no time delay. India had agreed to all the protocols including thorough body search by lady searchers behind a curtain while the duo were asked to remove their jewels and change into fresh dresses provided by MOFA. The wife’s shoes were observed to contain a metallic substance so they were changed and have been retained by MOFA for investigation. The meeting which was scheduled for thirty minutes was extended by another ten minutes at the convict’s request.
Before departing, the two ladies thanked MOFA while Commander Kulbhoshan Jadhav too extended his gratitude. The media, which was present to cover the event, was asked to stay away from the visitors. After the meeting, the visitors as well as the Indian Deputy High Commissioner were offered to join MOFA’s spokesperson in a joint Press conference but they declined and were amicably seen off. India could not swallow Pakistan’s diplomatic coup d’état and initially its media went berserk in targeting Pakistan with blatant accusations while the very next day after a debriefing by MEA, formal objections of deliberately harassing the ladies were raised, despite having agreed to the protocols. An international medical examiner had been flown in from Dubai to examine the convict after conducting various tests and his report declaring the convict to be of sound body and mind was made public. Indian media anchors themselves became neurosurgeons and started finding fault with the medical report.
If that were not enough, Indian Army started shelling Pakistani positions across the LoC and martyred three Pakistani soldiers. To top that and perhaps appease its blood thirsty masses it was falsely claimed that Indian commandos had infiltrated into Pakistan and killed eight soldiers. The lie was nailed by ISPR but Indian politicians, spewing venom, were urging Indian armed forces to attack and decimate Pakistan. Pakistan’s moral victory can be gauged from the fact that Indian opposition as well members from the ruling BJP, have summoned their Minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj to explain how Pakistan was afforded this opportunity of gaining a diplomatic victory India. While casting aspersions against Pakistan, India should examine its own track record of aggression against Kashmiris and Pakistani prisoners languishing in their jails. Afzal Guru, who was deemed responsible for the 13th December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament after a sham trial in which Indian judiciary admitted to the evidence being flimsy was hanged with allowing his family to meet him. Sepoy Maqbool Hussain, who was taken prisoner of war during the 1965 Pak-India war, was brutally tortured including his tongue being torn out, and remained incarcerated for forty years was released in a civilian prisoners’ exchange.
India continues to insist that Commander Kulbhoshan Jadhav is a retired Indian Navy officer who had set up his own business at the Iranian port of Chabahar, from where he was kidnapped and brought to Pakistan. They have failed to provide plausible response to why he was travelling on a genuine Indian Passport bearing a Muslim name. Neither do they give credence to his sworn confession of trying to disrupt the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the thousands of lives taken by his terror network in the shape of sabotage, insurgency and ethnic strife. If the Pakistani media did indeed heckle visiting ladies from a safe distance, it is not justified but perhaps they could not control their anger over bloodshed caused by Commander Kulbhoshan Jadhav.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.

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