Not A Spy

Pakistan's claims about Kulbhushan Jadhav are laughable, but deriding it for its cock and bull story will not save the Indian in their custody; India must do more


Repeating its older act of making Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav ‘confess’ on camera, Pakistan has once again released a video where a visibly shaken, alleged spy is wondering why India is denying the reason for ‘sending him to foment trouble’ in the neighbouring country. The habitually lying country forgets that such ‘evidence’ was dismissed as inadmissible at the International Court of Justice where Pakistan lost the case to India. It is nobody’s case that the two hostile nations don’t have moles planted in enemy territories, but Jadhav’s story, as told by Pakistan, sounds a big stretch of imagination of that country. First, near-obscure villagers and small-town minions from Indian Punjab are recruited by India for the purpose of espionage in Pakistani Punjab for the obvious commonality of language. A Marathi-accented Jadhav would be an unlikely candidate for the purpose. And then, Pakistan alleges he was masquerading in their country as a certain Hussain Mubarak Patel, which implies he found it more convenient to be disguised as a Gujarati rather than a Maharashtrian! The Pakistanis, in all probability, could not figure out the difference between a Patel and a Patil. No doubt, Jadhav had served the Navy at one point of time, but that past is far behind him. Since 2001, when he assisted some intelligence agencies in getting data related to the attack on Parliament House — masterminding which sent Kashmiri separatist Afzal Guru to the gallows — Jadhav has had no link with the intelligence agencies. Second, Pakistan appears ignorant of its own people, as little can be achieved by an Indian spy through secret meetings with Baloch rebels in Balochistan, as hardly any fighter of the region still lives there. Those who do have submitted to the authority of Pakistan — with many occupying that country’s central and provincial government posts — and the real revolutionaries are all operating in exile out of different countries of Europe and North America. Third, and the funniest of all, Pakistan appears inspired by Bollywood films of the 1980s where smugglers used to carry codes for their accomplices like “your monkey is with us”, which is what they claim Jadhav would use to identify other ‘operatives’ of India in Balochistan. Fourth, if Pakistan had indeed caught Jadhav from Balochistan, what has it been squabbling with Iran for? Fifth, and legally the strongest point is that a military court trial is a farce — more so when the accused is not a soldier of the army of the country holding the trial.

As has been a bane of India, however, some Indians readily speak the language of Pakistan, aiding the enemy nation in their propaganda in the process. While the Indian authorities insisted that while Jadhav’s being in Navy in the past and his cargo business in Chabahar were true but he had either strayed into Pakistani territory or was lured into it by the Sunni militants of Jaish ul Adl, declared a terrorist outfit in Iran, an Indian journalist called Hussain Zaidi went about the town claiming Jadhav was an Indian spy indeed! Zaidi theorised that Jadhav got caught for complacency that had set in after 14 years of easy operations and that the ‘spy’ would often speak in Marathi over the phone. But how India should deal with such treacherous elements would be a subject matter of a separate editorial. Here, it would suffice to say that this Zaidi suffers from the same Gujarati-Marathi confusion that Pakistanis do.

The fate of Jadhav stays precarious as of now, with a small mercy coming his way in the form of the ICJ order that has asked Pakistan to withhold his execution until it has fully examined India’s submission, which includes Pakistan’s denial of consular access to him. Given that this was only the second occasion when India had dragged Pakistan to the international court, the intention of the current Indian government is unambiguous: It will try its best to protect the life of this Indian. But, despite the competence of its lawyer Harish Salve, who performed with aplomb at the ICJ, global law in itself might not prove enough to save Jadhav. Diplomatic coercion must follow, fielding the United States as an ally in this tussle. And that should be followed by a tit-for-tat.

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