A tit-for-tat policy alone can make the hate-filled country behave; diplomacy cannot extract from it anything more than an inhuman farce
The virtually military state of Pakistan does not care that its effort to showcase its ‘humanitarian’ side by letting Kulbhushan Jadhav ‘meet’ his mother and wife has ended in a public relations disaster. Making a son meet his mother with a glass wall separating them, forcing the wife to change her sari and appear in a salwar-kameez and get rid of her bindi, insisting that they not speak Marathi, their mother tongue, and unleashing a tutored media on the poor women are atrocious acts from the point of view of a cultured nation, which Pakistan never was. If the world calls Pakistan paranoid, it couldn’t care less, as it has been subjected to worse, horrendous descriptions ranging from a rogue state to a sponsor of terrorism. Neither the reprobation by the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson nor the protest on Indian television is going to make Pakistan mend its ways. The fate of the former Navy officer, who for long had no links with the country’s security establishment, remains precarious despite the pressure from the International Court of Justice. Pakistan must have been persuaded by its all-weather ally China to exhibit its softer side, too, as the trio (that includes North Korea) is getting cornered in the comity of nations. Yet, even if the Indian version that Jadhav was lifted from Iran were to be true, it is unthinkable that the hostile country would accept it is no better than a petty abductor. A nation created and brought up on the idea of hate for India — which, to them, is a nation of Hindus — will project the country it perceives as its enemy as one given to subterfuge. It helps in its efforts to justify its hawkish approach to the bilateral relations between the two countries and also its not-so-clandestine support to Islamic terrorists. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s maudlin act of reaching out to ordinary Pakistanis through the issuance of medical visas apart, India’s foreign policy must be appreciated for playing a part in pushing Pakistan to this corner — especially by fielding renowned lawyer Harish Salve to argue its case at the ICJ — where it is finding it hard to rationalise the schizophrenic caution with which it allowed the meeting even as it denied the alleged spy a consular access in accordance with the established convention. The unnecessary consternation it causes in the domestic circuit has been restricted — overlooking for a while Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal’s irresponsible comment — as the government’s act of tightening the legal screws on dubiously foreign-funded non-government organisations has squeezed life out of the ‘Aman ki Asha’ brigade.
The immediate issue in hand is the safety of Jadhav and many other Indians who have been languishing in Pakistani jails for years and decades on a flimsy but template charge of espionage. The hostages include several prisoners of war whose presence in their prisons Pakistan denies. When the nation of military dictators — its uncertain phases of electoral democracy are a farce — could not disprove that Sarabjit Singh was a case of mistaken identity, it got him eliminated by unleashing a band of thugs on the hapless inmate. India has to adopt the policy of increasing the cost of the enemy here, which it did to meet the challenge of terrorism and cease-fire violations. If surgical strikes across the border have contained Pakistan from greater misadventures, if enhanced intelligence and hot pursuit have limited militancy in the Kashmir valley and almost pre-empted it in the rest of the country, efforts must be made also to renew and revitalise the Research and Analysis Wing network in Pakistan, which was wound up by a romantic, short-lived prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral. Thereafter, just one rule will apply to the game: No rules! It’s a (proxy) war, which calls for guerrilla tactics involving everything from Mossad-like strikes within the enemy territory and holding important Pakistani personalities captive while claiming they were arrested red-handed executing some sinister plan in India. Then, we must demand a hostage exchange of sorts. The caveat that this could escalate the situation is specious; Pakistan has been as evil as one could imagine, leaving no option unexercised, which it could exploit in the case where India retaliates (while denying it is retribution). The charade witnessed yesterday on Pakistani soil is, otherwise, the maximum India can extract from it using diplomacy.