Former Indian Naval officer Kulbushan Jadhav is in Pakistani custody. That is what the outside world believes. Nothing is known about his present physical and mental condition. It can be guessed that he must have been treated in the most brutal and inhuman manner in which the Pakistanis treat Indian prisoners…writes Syed Shihabudheen
India may have ‘defeated’ Pakistan at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) but the goal of saving the life of Kulbhushan Jadhav, former officer of Indian Navy, facing death sentence in the land of the pure on unproven charges of spying and subversion is as distant as before.
The ICJ has put off the execution of Jadhav for the time being. It has not annulled the order announced after a sham in camera trial by a kangaroo court in the Pakistani barracks to hang Jadhav.
Most Pakistanis refuse to believe that they have ‘lost’ to India in The Hague. They always ‘defeat’ India, never ‘lose’ to it, be it a cricket match or a war! Proceedings at the ICJ might not have gone the way Pakistan wanted but for that the critics blame their government for not preparing properly after making the cardinal mistake of accepting the jurisdiction of the international court. With typical bluster and bravado, the Pakistanis have already declared that they will win all the future ICJ rounds.
Leave aside the question of jurisdiction or whether the ICJ or some other court outside the country can overturn the order of a Pakistani court, what will worry India is that there appears to be no way to stop an embittered Pakistan, known for its irresponsible and roguish behaviour, from eventually executing Jadhav. The ICJ stay, valid till August, even if extended till the Jadhav case is finally disposed of—after a year or two—does not eliminate the danger to the life of Jadhav.
Jadhav is in Pakistani custody. That is what the outside world believes. Nothing is known about his present physical and mental condition. It can be guessed that he must have been treated in the most brutal and inhuman manner in which the Pakistanis treat Indian prisoners. They have no compunctions about it; that is their style. And they are very good at telling lies and misleading teams that may visit their prisons in search of Indian prisoners.
Though India is no stranger to the scourge, custodial deaths in Pakistan of people disliked by the government or the military are quite common. A case in point is of Indian ‘spy’, Sarbajit Singh
Pakistan has doggedly turned down 16 Indian requests for counsellor access to Jadhav. It is a good enough proof that Pakistan fears that given an opportunity to speak without the threatening presence of the ISI and the Pakistani military, Jadhav would nail the Pakistani lies. India is not alone in believing that Jadhav was arrested in Iran by agents of ISI and brought to Balochistan to be handed over to the Pakistanis. Á ‘surrendered’ Taliban leader, a former spokesman of the outfit to boot, has said so in media interviews.
But if by any chance there is pressure on Pakistan to let Jadhav speak to an Indian diplomat, be sure that Pakistan will do two things, if only to prove that it had not lied about him. It will have moved him to a ‘better’ place to show that he has been kept well even when serving sentence. Enough fear would have been instilled, psychologically and otherwise, in Jadhav to make sure that he hides the unpleasant and embarrassing truth about how he was treated and where he was arrested. He might be made to say that he had spoken voluntarily during his recorded ‘confession’ which looked completely flawed with broken sentences and pauses.
After its humiliating defeat in the Bangladesh War of 1971 at the hands of India, Pakistan had taken a number of Indians, civilians as well as services. India believes that Pakistan had not told the truth about the Indian services personnel it had taken prisoners. Pakistan gave no information about many Indian military prisoners. Their families had collected evidence to support their belief that their kith and kin were in Pak prisons and that they were tortured and treated in the most inhuman ways.
Teams from India were allowed to ‘inspect’ Pakistani jails, and, expectedly, they found nothing. Obviously, the Indian prisoners had been hidden somewhere because after the return of the Indian teams, reports emerged that the ‘missing’ prisoners were still seen in some Pak jails.
Though India is no stranger to the scourge, custodial deaths in Pakistan of people disliked by the government or the military are quite common. A case in point is of Indian ‘spy’, Sarbajit Singh, who was sentenced to death in Pakistan despite some prosecution witnesses saying that they were forced to speak against Singh. He was killed while in jail—allegedly by fellow prisoners. The job of killing Jadhav might well be outsourced to some roguish elements nurtured by the Pakistani military.
The Americans, for long the biggest benefactors of Pakistan, both in military and development aid, failed to shame Pakistan after discovering repeatedly that it was double crossing it in the war on terror
It is a false comfort to say that after its ‘defeat’ at ICJ, Pakistan will have to think twice before it goes ahead with the execution of Jadhav. There will be international outcry and condemnation if he is hanged and Pakistan will be ‘shamed’ before the global community, it is said.
That is a smug belief. Pakistan has shown little or no concern about being shamed internationally over the years. Otherwise, it would have given up using jihadi proxies as state-sponsored terrorism against India, at least since 2001 the year, the world woke up finally to the fact of Pakistan being epi-centre of global terrorism.
The Americans, for long the biggest benefactors of Pakistan, both in military and development aid, failed to shame Pakistan after discovering repeatedly that it was double crossing it in the war on terror. The nearest that Pakistan felt ashamed internationally was when the Nuclear Wal-Mart proliferation run by metallurgist, A. Q. Khan, the so-called father of the ‘Islamic Bomb’ (based on designs and equipment he had stolen from Europe) was exposed. Khan is a national hero. Pakistanis do not feel ashamed of what he did. Today he is a respected columnist in a leading English daily from Karachi.
There is a view that if efforts to save the life of Jadhav have to continue the Modi government will have to facilitate back channel (Track II) diplomacy with Islamabad- Rawalpindi combine. It has also been suggested that the setback caused at the ICJ was part of a political game in Pakistan to let differences between the civilian and the military leadership to come into open. Some Pakistani critics of their prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, link the ICJ verdict to the recent Murree meeting between Sharif and his Indian friend, steel magnate, Sajjan Jindal. Both contentions look too far-fetched.
Make no mistake. When it comes to matters relating to India, there are no differing views in Pakistan. Barring maybe a handful, the overwhelming section of Pakistanis that dominates the public space has no desire to amend ties with India. That is true of Nawaz Sharif, who has his family roots in the Anantnag district of Jammu & Kashmir although many in India dwell on his ‘personal’ desire to have friendly ties with India. Also of the Army Chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who had a long stint near the Line of Control (LoC) commanding the X Corps in the years before his elevation to head the GHQ Shura.
Well, Nawaz, Bajwa, and a lot of other Pakistanis certainly want to befriend India – but only after Kashmir has been handed over to Pakistan.