The arrest of Commander Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav of Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), masquerading under the alias of Hussain Mubarak Patel, through an Intelligence Based Operation in the border area of Balochistan in March, 2016, was a significant breakthrough for the security forces of Pakistan. The claim of India’s involvement in instigating terrorism in Balochistan that rang hollow earlier, now stood confirmed as Jadhav in a televised magisterial statement confessed to the espionage and subversive activities he was tasked to carry out.
A year later, Jadhav has been awarded death sentence by the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under Section 59 of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, according to the ISPR spokesman. The ensuing furore from across the border, with echoes of ‘premeditated murder’ and ‘travesty of justice’ can be considered as weak attempts to shore support for the convicted spy.
The aggressive shade of statements aside, this is not the first time that Indian spies who have violated Pakistan’s territorial borders and engaged in subversion have been captured. Many high profile cases have cropped up in the past, including Ravindra Kaushik, Surjeet Singh, Sarabjit Singh, and Gurbaksh Ram. Out of humanitarian concerns, their death sentences were either delayed or converted to life imprisonments by the Pakistani authorities. Ironically, the façade of plausible deniability maintained by the imprisoned spies in Pakistan, usually slipped away once they were extradited to the Indian authorities. This can be attested through various media reports scattered over the span of last ten years in which the dissatisfied ex-spies have demanded reparations from the Government of India. In the comity of nations, India has proved its moral ineptitude through the premeditated violations of sovereignty and acts of sabotage within the territory of other countries.
Upwards of $54 billion, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) development ranks topmost on the State’s developmental agenda, connecting Balochistan province in Pakistan with Xinjiang province in China. These arterial nodes are the prime connector of strategic nature through which the trade and economies of South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East will flourish. By appointing Anil Kumar Dhasmana, formerly experienced in fomenting terrorism in Balochistan, as the new R&AW chief, the government of India has signalled to the world at large the lack of respect it accords to regional peace and development in South Asia. Through the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav, in accordance with the legal verdict, Pakistan is signalling the Indian government that its policy of infiltration and subversion will not be tolerated any further.
Another dimension of this execution is to wipe off the guilt that has rattled the State’s conscience since the build-up of Raymond Davis saga. By allowing him to walk scot free after buckling under foreign pressure, the loss of trust among the nationals was a serious setback for the State. The notion of the supremacy of Pakistan’s sovereignty dented as a result. Thus, making Kulbhushan accountable through the judicial process and standing firm against any external influencing variables is necessary.
Another thing being voiced by the official segments of the Indian government is that consular access has been denied to Kulbhushan Jadhav. From the international law perspective, if it can be substantiated and established through proof that Jadhav was involved in espionage, the permissibility of consular access can be rightly waived off. Requests of consular access submitted by the Indian government were as a result turned down by Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior.
Another issue that has popped up on the media recently is related to the whereabouts of a Pakistani Lt. Col (Rtd) Muhammad Habib since April 06, 2017 from Lumbini, a Nepalese town near the Indian border. It has been established that Habib was lured in for a job in Nepal, provided a Lahore to Kathmandu via Oman business class ticket of Oman Airlines. On his arrival, he was handed over a Nepalese cell number. On the same day, he took a flight from Kathmandu to Lumbini from where his cell number was switched off and his location cannot be traced. The domain of the web portal through which the application of job was put forward, was hosted in India, and has now been closed. Correspondence was done through a UK cell number which was being used through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) calling application. It cannot be concluded with certainty for now but it seems that the Colonel has walked into a trap set by the Indians.
Still, the barrage of Indian propaganda on the sentencing of Kulbhushan Jadhav needs to be pre-empted by Pakistan. A ‘no compromise’ attitude is the need of the time so that the last remnants of those opposed to Pakistan’s integrity can be reminded about their misgivings.