By Sunil Dang
A Pakistani military court on April 10th sentenced an Indian accused of espionage to death, ratcheting up the tension between the countries. Pakistani authorities say Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav, a former officer with the Indian Navy, was arrested in March 2016 in the turbulent province of Balochistan, which has seen a long-running conflict between Pakistani security forces and a militant separatist movement. The Pakistani military said in a statement Jadhav had confessed to being tasked by India’s intelligence service RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) with planning, coordinating and organizing espionage and sabotage activities in Balochistan “aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan.”
But in December, Sartaj Aziz, who functions as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, told members of the country’s senate that there was insufficient evidence presented of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s alleged espionage. “What the dossier contained on Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav were mere statements. It did not have any conclusive evidence.” His explanation was offered as Pakistan deliberated how to build international opinion against India for allegedly instigating separatism in Balochistan.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the Pakistan stand and Indian counter on Kulbhushan Jadhav, we need to understand what Pakistan want to achieve by using Jadhav card. Having discussion with some of the intelligence officials, I could realize that Pakistan is trying to use the emotional card by penalizing Jadhav. By this act, Pakistan is trying to put pressure on other classified Indian officials operating in Pakistan and other countries under cover. The Pakistan administration is trying to signal such officials that Indian government is unable to safeguard those officials when they really want their government support. These classified officials are excluded from any gallantry award, if they are caught during operation the government would disown them putting them on their own and mercy of the country’s rule which has caught or arrested them etc. Hence, such officials are of very rare breed on any intelligence services and our government must ensure that they are not get murdered like Kulbhushan Jadhav. We failed to safeguard Sarabjit but now it’s high time for the Indian government to wake up and take global route to rescue Jadhav.
There is need for an international law under the purview of the United Nations, where such arrested people be tried at the neutral court without having presence of any of the two national judiciaries. It would help the victim to get justice as law would be allowed to do its course. International arbitration of such arrestees would help both countries to sustain their bi-lateral talks as any decision in such cases won’t dilute the ongoing peace process. In lack of such international arbitration, two involved nations are found trying the arrestee with biased attitude.
Sending summons to the Pakistan’s High Commissioner and reprimanding Pakistan of ‘premeditated murder’ in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav is necessary but not enough. We ned to knock at the international platforms like the UN and put pressure on the government of Pakistan to bring its Military, Judiciary and the Executives on the same page. Sartaj Ajiz’s statement on Jadhav in the Senate is an eye wash and an act of befooling the international community. By knocking all doors to ensure safety of Kulbhushan Jadhav would send a signal to undercover Indian intelligence operatives in various countries that in case they fail in their operation, Indian government is there to handle the matter. It would help Indian government to boost the morale of such operatives and negate any chances of cracks in their mind, a ploy that Pakistan has played through Jadhav.