The UN mandated review of Pakistan’s human rights record is taking place this month in Geneva amidst calls by national and international rights watchdogs to the government to ‘meaningfully engage with the process to improve the human rights situation in the country’. There have been a spate of honour killings, and atrocities on women in recent days. Blasphemy laws are back on the centre stage. So, Pakistan does not want to face more flak over Jadhav’s case….writes Rifan Ahmed Khan
It is not a double cross in the classic Mata Hari mode. But it is a classic Pakistani innovation to serve a double purpose; one keep UN human rights ayatollahs at bay on the eve of third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by offering a small mercy to the Indian Kulbhushan Jadhavon death row over trumped up espionage charge; two give a new heightened security cover to globally acclaimed terrorist Hafeez Saeed by spreading the canard of a threat to his life from ‘foreign intelligence agencies’.
By announcing almost simultaneously the two feats, the GHQ has left no room to entertain any doubts. Even for the naïve.
Saeed is wanted in India for the mayhem his Laskhar-e-Toiba had carried out in Mumbai in November of 2008. The United States announced a bounty of $10 million for his arrest in April 2012. But he is the most prized possession of GHQ; and his Difa-e-Pakistan council of religious fanatics offers a ready weapon to beat or corner Washington when need arises.
Lately Saeed has become the rallying point for the GHQ engineered campaign to mainstream many of the state sponsored non-state actors to checkmate the old school politicians with some mass base of their own like Nawaz Sharif. No surprise most of the key figures in the 26/11 Mumbai attacksare about to walk free. And fact of the matter is that Hafiz Saeed and his gang enjoy freedom to roam around inciting people against India; they have immunity from any action being taken against them.
The UN mandated review of Pakistan’s human rights record is taking place this month in Geneva amidst calls by national and international rights watchdogs to the government to ‘meaningfully engage with the process to improve the human rights situation in the country’. There have been a spate of honour killings, and atrocities on women in recent days. Blasphemy laws are back on the centre stage. So, Pakistan does not want to face more flak over Jadhav’s case.
Hence the offer to let his wife to travel to Pakistan and meet him. This is a pure, unadulterated PR exercise, not a ‘humanitarian’ gesture as some quarters in Islamabad have claimed. It,however, makes clear that Jadhav is still alive. His wife, if allowed, will meet him at a secret place which must be heavily guarded by the ISI, and its non-state actor foot-soldiers.
An emotional encounter between Jadhav and his wife will not unravel the real story of how Pakistan had got hold of Jadhav. In fact, there is every possibility that Jadhav would be made to repeat his so-called confessional statement, which, let there be no doubt, was made under duress and threat at the outset.
All this will be fodder for a Pakistani publicity blitzkrieg. Already, the Pakistanis have overplayed the Jadhav card by making much noise about him on the global stage.
Pakistanis have been showing the arrest of Jadhav as the greatest spy catch in their history. To their dismay and disappointment, the rest of the world has not shared their euphoria thus far. Indeed, it is not convinced by what they say about James Bond Jadhav, and the way a Kangaroo military court ordered death sentence to him.
If he is executed, as Pakistani establishment has been threatening to do for a while, to please a frenzied populace brought up on a diet of hatred towards India, both Islamabad and Rawalpindi will invite international opprobrium . If they prolong the agony of Jadhav, they risk inciting the bloodthirsty bigots at home. So, the balancing act of creating a safe haven to Hafeez Saeed; the official canard is that the chief of the biggest Pakistan-based terror group targeting India is under threat from ‘foreign intelligence agencies’—a euphemism for India’s RAW.
The message? Pakistan is not ready to give up its visceral hostility towards India by abandoning the terror groups it has been nurturing for ‘bleeding India with thousand cuts’.
Pakistan is passing through a phase of internal political upheaval—not for the first time nor for the last time though. The military has regained its full supremacy over foreign and defence policy. Even economic policy also. Clearly, there is no chance of Pakistan changing its compulsive anti-India stance.
No Indian gesture like welcoming the offer to Jadhav or, for that matter, liberal visas for Pakistanis seeking medical treatment, is going to change the situation. Pakistan does not believe in observing diplomatic niceties with India.Yet, to its disappointment, India does not find itself under any ‘pressure’ to talk to Pakistan about Kashmir. Or use its soil to transport goods to landlocked Afghanistan.
In a historical sense, Pakistan understands tough language. Look at the way Pakistan is trying to suck up to the tough-talking Trump administration. The anti-US bombast has all but disappeared. Pakistani leaders, including the all-powerful army chief, are rushing to mend fences with Washington by their sweet talk, hoping that they will be forgiven for all the poison they had spewed on the Americans under the false sense of security provided by the tight Chinese embrace. Frankly, only the naïve will believe humanitarian gestures from Pakistan.