Monday, March 27, 2023
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VIP security to Jadhav’s family caused public resentment among Pakistanis

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Officials say that executing Kulbhushan Jadhav didn’t suit Pakistan because his existence would keep the case alive — the clearest indication that Pakistan would abide by the verdict of the International Court of Justice.

By allowing the detained Indian Navy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet his wife, Chetankul, and mother, Avanti, in Islamabad on 25 December, Pakistan has made an effort to send a message to India that it wanted improvement in their perennially unfriendly relations.

Despite denials by Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal who insisted the permission was given for the meeting on humanitarian grounds, the move was apparently also aimed at improving Pakistan’s image in the world and strengthening its case at the International Court of Justice, which will be likely hearing it next month.

In May, the court had ordered Pakistan to stay Jadhav’s execution after judging that it violated a treaty that guaranteed diplomatic assistance to foreigners accused of crimes. However, Islamabad maintained that Jadhav had confessed to being a RAW spy working to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan.

Remarking that “one good deed should beget another,” Faisal said India would hopefully follow the template of Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir where blood continues to be spilled. He argued that Pakistan’s positive gesture showed it had nothing to hide.

It was obvious a lot of planning had gone into arranging the meeting. The three met at a custom-built, bomb-proof container parked at the backside of the foreign office located on the Constitution Avenue, where the offices of the most important institutions and government functionaries are located. It was the first time that such a meeting in this manner was hosted by the foreign ministry. Pakistan cited security concerns behind its decision to prohibit physical contact and only allow Jadhav to speak to his wife and mother from behind a glass partition through an intercom.

The strict security measures put in place at the airport and on the road to Islamabad caused public resentment due to traffic jam amid criticism that the government was offering VIP protocol to the family of a convicted Indian spy. The fact that three Pakistani soldiers were reportedly killed the same day in Indian firing across the Line of Control in Kashmir added fuel to fire and prompted the local newspapers to come up with headlines such as “Jadhav thankful but Pakistanis feel hurt”.

The day of the meeting was also carefully chosen. 25 December is the birthday of Founder of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and is widely celebrated as a national holiday. It is also Christmas day.

Pakistan also chose the occasion to record and release another confessional statement from Jadhav, who was captured in its Balochistan province in March 2016 allegedly carrying a passport in the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel. Pakistan claimed Jadhav was a serving Indian Navy officer tasked to carry out espionage, terrorism and subversive activities in Balochistan, where a low-intensity insurgency is being waged by Baloch separatists, and Sindh’s capital, Karachi that suffered for years from violence fuelled by criminal gangs backed by certain political parties.

The foreign ministry also shared with the media Jadhav’s medical report issued on 22 December by a doctor from the Saudi-German Hospital in Dubai. It stated that Jadhav’s health condition was excellent.

There were other goodwill gestures as well. The meeting was to last 30 minutes, but was extended by another 10 minutes on the request of the Jadhav’s family. J.P. Singh, India’s long serving deputy high commissioner in Pakistan, was allowed to accompany Jadhav’s wife and mother to the foreign ministry and watch the meeting from behind a glass wall even though he couldn’t hear what was being said. Pakistan maintained that this didn’t amount to consular access to Jadhav that India has been demanding.

Pakistan also accepted India’s request not to expose Jadhav’s wife and mother to the media to ask questions. Pakistan had planned to arrange a question-answer session at the foreign ministry with the spokesman conducting the proceedings. In fact, Pakistan was keen to have members of the Indian media also in Islamabad to cover the event.

Another meaningful gesture was the assurance by the foreign ministry that this won’t be the last meeting between Jadhav and his family. In fact, it was indicated that there could be more meetings in future.

Also, a day before the widely-anticipated family meeting, Faisal commented that executing Jadhav didn’t suit Pakistan as his existence would keep the case alive. This was the clearest indication that Pakistan would abide by the verdict of the International Court of Justice and refrain from executing Jadhav even though he was convicted and sentenced earlier this year to death by the military-run Field General Court Martial. Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is holding decision on Jadhav’s mercy appeal and it seems this process would be prolonged.

As Faisal noted, the Army chief could decide the petition ‘in minutes or years’. The same is true for Jadhav’s next mercy appeal to the President of Pakistan.

Rahimullah Yusufzai is Resident Editor of the English daily, The News International, in Peshawar

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  1. May one respectfully urge the state of Pakistan to return Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav safely to his family in India. That would be a far sighted investment in the future of the bilateral relationship. The alternative course of action would blight relations for a long time to come.

  2. Great! An impoverished country whose economy is in shambles, and who is facing diplomatic crises of sorts after every major world power has snubbed it, is splurging time and resources on a case that it knows it cannot defend. Lies upon lies just to defend a reckless military court martial of a failed nation.

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